Students call on PM not to repeal haredi draft law

Union chairman: Don’t give into ‘coalition extortion.’

Haredi protest in Jerusalem against draft (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Haredi protest in Jerusalem against draft
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The National Union of Israeli Students penned a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday calling on him not to repeal or amend the law for haredi conscription.
“We will not accept agreements made at our expense in order to pass a budget or please a particular faction in the coalition,” Student Union chairman Gilad Arditi wrote.
“The student body carries on its back a large part of the burden of reserve duty (students account for some 30% percent of all reserves) and it does not see this as a burden but rather as a mission,” he wrote.
Arditi called on the prime minister not to give in to “coalition extortion” and not to amend the law and “void it of its content.”
“I turn to you and ask to understand, as the young generation in the country, how can we place trust in the political system and in our politicians when every reform and law can get canceled even before it goes into effect because of changes [in the governing coalition]? What is the meaning of your word? Your signature? How can we be confident of our future here in this country when every broad reform can be canceled in less than two years?” Arditi wrote.
The National Union of Israeli Students announced it would set up protest tents on campuses throughout the country – in a move reminiscent of the 2011 social protests.
Last week, the government announced it plans to pass amendments to the 2014 law including the extension by three years of the 2017 deadline for implementing compulsory military service for haredi yeshiva students.
In addition, the amended law will grant the defense minister discretion to decide whether criminal penalties will be applied if conscription targets are not met, as opposed to the current version that mandates automatic penalties.
The proposed amendments was drawn up by the Defense and Justice ministries, in coordination with ultra-Orthodox political parties United Torah Judaism and Shas.
These parties were promised under coalition agreements signed with the Likud after the March 2015 national election, that the clause in the law requiring compulsory military service for haredi yeshiva students would be repealed.
The haredi parties have threatened that they will not approve the 2016 state budget, slated for a vote in Knesset later this month, unless the amendment to the law for haredi conscription is passed first, at least in its first reading.

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this article.