The High Court of Justice, during a hearing on Tuesday morning, offered a compromise to groups petitioning for the immediate conscription of haredi men.
Instead of drafting ultra- Orthodox men of military age who no longer have a legal framework for not performing army service, a panel of nine High Court justices offered to freeze the terms of the Law of the Security Services whereby someone eligible for service who is not drafted within a year is obligated to serve only for a limited period.
This would mean that a haredi yeshiva student who has received conscription orders but has not yet been drafted because of the state’s decision to continue haredi deferrals until new legislation is in place would still technically be obligated to serve for the full term of military service once a new law is passed.
Following the expiration of the Tal Law on August 1, 2012, full-time yeshiva students were no longer able to apply for indefinite deferrals, and hundreds of conscription notices were sent out. Despite this, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon decided in July to send deferral letters to 608 haredi men who had received conscription notices and were slated for enlistment on August 18.
The reasoning behind the deferral letters was that the government and Knesset were currently working on legislation to create a new legal framework, with the goal of reaching compulsory military service for all Jewish Israeli men, including haredim, by 2017.
The Movement for Quality Government in Israel (MQG) argues, however, that the state is essentially breaking the law by not drafting haredim now, and that the Defense Ministry is therefore discriminating against non-haredi Jews.
The organization did not look favorably on the offer proposed on Tuesday by the High Court, which is expected to issue a formal decision on the petition in the coming days.
MQG pointed out that the legislation proposed by the government, which currently is in committee, will provide a permanent exemption for men who have received conscription orders, rendering the court’s proposal largely irrelevant.
“Once again we are witness to the fact that the [defense minister] is refusing to fulfill the explicit instructions of the law and of ethical [conduct] that obligates the prevention of discrimination between one person and another, and [is not] drafting those who are obligated to enlist,” the group said before Tuesday’s hearing.
“Once again,” it continued, “the Movement for Quality Government, and the entire Israeli public, is facing an unbearable injury to the values of democracy upon which the State of Israel rests, including the principles of the rule of law, equality and the separation of powers, as the [defense minister] allows himself the freedom once again to take decisions that he is not authorized to make.”
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