|Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem|
High Court blasts state for no end in sight on drafting haredim into IDF
By YONAH JEREMY BOB
Court holds discussion of petitions calling on state to draft eligible ultra-Orthodox men into the army immediately.
A maximum nine-panel bench of the High Court of Justice on Tuesday repeatedly
pummeled the state, demanded to know when the new legislation to resolve the
issue of drafting haredim into the IDF would be completed.
The court also
implied the state was contradicting its earlier positions by asking for more
Time after time, different justices asked what was the deadline for
completing the legislation and how far along it was, with the state merely
repeating that the Knesset “was working intensively” and commenting that it “had
no prophetic powers.”
In August 2013, Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein
publicly pressed Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet
Shaked, who chairs the Knesset committee on the issue, to finish the bill in the
Weinstein had told Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon that the process for passing the
bill should be pushed ahead more rapidly, even during the Knesset
Edelstein’s response, weeks after the first reading of the bill
was approved, was essentially that it was not the attorney- general’s job to set
schedules for the legislature.
Weinstein had said that he viewed it as
“his duty” as the government’s lawyer to “convey to the prime minister and the
defense minister the problems that were liable to occur” in the court
proceeding, including unspecified dire consequences, if the legislative process
drew out much longer.
The court said that several months having passed
since Weinstein took that hard-line position on finishing the law soon, and the
sense that the state had even less of an idea now about how soon the new law
would be finished than before, was a blatant contradiction.
responded that Weinstein’s statements had merely been a tool for trying to press
the legislative process forward, not to take a position on a specific hard
The court also seemed annoyed that the state appeared to be
taking advantage of the freeze of the Law of the Security Services that the
court ordered in August 2013.
In one of the hearings, the High Court
demanded that the defense minister explain why he deferred drafting haredi men
of the 1994 and 1995 cohorts, but instead of ordering an immediate draft the
court ordered a freeze of the Law of the Security Services.
means that the provision of the law that says that delayed drafting of a draftee
for more than a year reduces the amount of time that person must serve will not
apply, and that, at least in theory, any court order to draft the haredim in
question would still obligate them to serve a full term.
implied that when it ordered the freeze to maintain the status quo, it had not
expected that to be an extended situation, but that the state was using the
freeze as an excuse for buying time.
The Movement for Quality Government
in Israel, along with several other groups, petitioned the High Court to draft
haredi men from 1994-1995 following the expiration of the Tal Law on August 1,
This law provided a legal framework for full-time yeshiva students
to indefinitely postpone their military service, but this option no longer
exists since the law expired.
MQG has complained that more than a year
has passed since the Tal Law was struck, and yet the Ministry of Defense has
still not drafted any haredi men except on a voluntary basis.
conscription notices were sent out by the ministry to haredim approaching the
age of enlistment, but Ya’alon decided in July 2013 to send deferral letters of
at least four months to 608 haredi men, who have been continually deferred
This was another issue where the court went on the attack, arguing
that the state counsel’s claim that Ya’alon had the power to continue to defer
the draft dates with no set deadline contradicted earlier statements by the
state that his powers of deferral were limited.
The hearing also briefly
addressed a petition demanding that the state cease subsidies to haredi yeshiva
students who are not enlisting in the IDF, with the court criticizing the state
for ignoring this issue.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this story.