Haredi anti-draft protest 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein notified the High Court of Justice on Tuesday
that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon wished to put off drafting 608 haredim into
the IDF until at least December.
Originally, and as recently as July 11,
the state told the court that the 608 men were due for conscription no later
than August 8, after their draft date had already been deferred for a full
The state also discussed varying scenarios and the impact of the
deferral on other groups of haredim, as draft dates are spread out throughout
While speculation has been rampant that drafting the young men
would be further delayed, Tuesday’s statement was the first official
confirmation that the state might defer drafting the current group of draftable
haredim indefinitely, to the point that they could all be exempt.
state’s declaration came as a result of petitions to the High Court calling for
the immediate conscription of the approximately 40,000 yeshiva students who are
no longer legally exempt from military service.
The so-called “Tal Law,”
which was enacted in 2002, allowed full-time ultra- Orthodox yeshiva students to
postpone their military service indefinitely. However, following the law’s
expiration on July 31, 2012, the only operative legislation regarding military
service for haredi yeshiva students is that which applies to all other Jewish
Israelis, the Law for the Security Services (1986), which stipulates mandatory
army service for everyone of the appropriate age.
Activist groups have
previously noted that, in effect, any state deferral of the draft date past
August 8 would mean that the yeshiva students who received conscription orders
would be able to avoid service altogether.
This is because anyone aged 18
and over on the day the new legislation that the government is devising for
haredi enlistment passes, will ultimately be able to gain a full exemption under
the terms of the new law, since mandatory enlistment will go into effect under
it in 2017.
The state explained that Ya’alon had ordered that deferral
letters go out to the haredim in question on August 6, absent any court order to
At the same time, the state said it had delayed the
letters’ immediate mailing to give the court time to intervene should it choose
to do so.
Weinstein explained the state’s decision in light of the fact
that the Knesset was in advanced stages of passing legislation that would fully
resolve the issue of drafting Haredim going forward.
He noted that the
Knesset had already passed legislation based on the Peri Committee
recommendations and that four special parliamentary meetings were scheduled for
the Knesset recess – which begins on Thursday – to expedite passing the new bill
The state also said the expected legislation would push off
drafting the current cohorts of haredim by a few years, such that a delay until
this December was essentially meaningless.
Uri Regev, director of
religious freedom NGO Hiddush, responded to Weinstein’s statement, declaring,
“This proves again that the defense minister is not trying to draft the haredi
yeshiva students, and he is doing everything in his power in order to evade
Regev added regarding when the case started one year ago with the
IDF issuing draft orders, “the current response shows how justified we were when
we originally said that it was all a public relations exercise. Now the
state confirms it.”
He called on the court to “end the discrimination of
treating the blood” of haredim as more important than the “blood of
Meanwhile, at a Tuesday morning hearing in which petitioners
were asking the High Court to end subsidies for haredim who did not perform IDF
service, the court slammed the state for giving unsatisfactory answers, though
it did not issue an order or give a date for issuing one.Jeremy Sharon
contributed to this report.