Government anxious to rush through haredi military service exemption law

The High Court struck down Israel's policy on haredi recruitment, deeming it to be discriminatory.

October 2, 2017 04:22
2 minute read.
Government anxious to rush through haredi military service exemption law

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks behind Israeli soldiers at the entrance to a recruiting office in Jerusalem July 4, 2012. . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The cabinet appointed Tourism Minister Yariv Levin Sunday to lead a ministerial committee that will draft new haredi (ultra-Orthodox) military-service exemption legislation following the High Court of Justice’s decision to strike down the current law.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to rush the bill, a coalition source confirmed.

One motivation could be to eliminate a destabilizing element for his coalition; another is to quickly remove from the news cycle an issue that is beneficial for Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid in the polls.

“We want to create a law that will take what the High Court said and go in that direction,” coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) said Sunday.

As to what changes would be acceptable to haredi parties, Bitan said that the new law can be permanent, as opposed to the one the court canceled, which had to be renewed regularly.

“We’ll think more about what we need to do. That’s the job of Levin and his committee,” Bitan added.

The other members of the committee will be Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of Bayit Yehudi, UTJ MK and Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush, UTJ MK Uri Maklev, Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer, Kulanu MK Merav Ben- Ari, along with former Shas MK Ariel Atias, who was intimately involved in the drafting of the previous law.

The overriding principle of United Torah Judaism and its MKs is to preserve the ability of any yeshiva student to remain in the study hall and obtain a military service exemption if he so wishes.

At the same time, the UTJ MKs say they will try and draft a law which meet the demands of the High Court of Justice that any such law provide for greater equality and demonstrate a real attempt to increase the number of haredi men enlisting in the army.

But UTJ is hesitant to insist on a clause in the legislation that would enable the Knesset to override a ruling by the High court striking down the new law.

Coalition partner and Kulanu Chairman Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said last month that he opposes efforts to override High Court decisions, including over the issue of haredi enlistment. It also appears that UTJ does not want any proposed legislation to falter over this possible stumbling block.

There is a clear effort to advance the legislation swiftly, with legal advisers and lawyers already in the midst of drafting the bill, even reportedly working on Yom Kippur eve, with a first draft expected in the next few days.

Separately, a new directorate in the IDF designed to centralize the various bodies which deal with haredi enlistment, will begin operations after the holiday period, with the goal of increasing the numbers of haredi men signing up to serve.

According to a report broadcast on Kan, the directorate will deal with all stages of haredi enlistment, beginning with the process at IDF enlistment offices, as well as placing haredi enlistees in appropriate units and preparing them for military life.

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