The Council for Military Service Equality, a leading campaign group for national
service-draft reform, issued a statement on Monday “to remind the prime minister
and the defense minister” that the Tal Law will expire within 48 hours, after
which they will have to “begin to draft all 18-year-olds into the army,”
including from the haredi (ultra- Orthodox) community.
Since 2002 the Tal
Law has provided the legal framework for full-time yeshiva students to defer
national service, but it expires on August 1 with no law to replace
This means that the 1949 Law for Security Service – which mandates
military service for all citizens at the age of 18 – will be incumbent on
yeshiva students as well.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said that in
light of the failure to replace the Tal Law, the draft would be widened, once
the law expires, to include haredi men “on the basis of preparatory work done by
the IDF over the past year to prepare for increased haredi enlistment,” which
the government had requested.
It seems unlikely, however, that the 54,000
full- time yeshiva students who are currently deferring their military service,
or the several thousand haredi men turning 18 this year, will be drafted on
Barak has already stated that the Defense Ministry is forming a
special committee to draft – within three months – a temporary order to fill the
legal vacuum until the Knesset passes a new law to deal with the
But groups campaigning for IDF draft reform have threatened that
if haredi men are not drafted they will file a stream of lawsuits to the High
Court of Justice against the Defense Ministry demanding that it adhere to the
In its statement on Monday, the Council for Military Service
Equality added that the budget currently being drafted does not include an
increase in funds for the army to draft large numbers of haredim. The council
said this was a deliberate step which will be answered “on the ground” and
through legal channels.
The religious freedom lobby group Hiddush along
with the Free Israel movement sent letters to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz
and the government’s legal adviser stating that come August 1 the transfer of
any funds to yeshiva students on the basis of the Tal Law will be illegal. Every
month NIS 13 million are transferred to yeshiva students from the state
amounting to some NIS 400 million a year. The organizations have also filed a
petition with the High Court of Justice to prevent the funds being transferred
after the law expires.
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