Haredi and IDF soldier Tal law Jerusalem 390.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
In a response to a High Court of Justice petition ahead of a hearing on
Thursday, the Defense Ministry said that it will start drafting haredi men
reaching the age of military service only in the summer and “in a gradual
manner” over a period of two years.
In addition, the state said in its
response that yeshiva students aged 20 and above, who until now have received
military service deferrals in accordance with the “Tal Law” of 2002, should not
be drafted until the Knesset rules on the issue.
Draft reform campaigners
reacted angrily to the publication of the response, accusing the ministry and
the government of breaking the law by not drafting haredi yeshiva students,
following the expiration of the Tal Law in August that allowed full-time yeshiva
students to indefinitely defer their military service.
demanding that the state prepare for the integration into the army of haredi men
reaching the age of military service, was filed by the Movement for Quality
Shahar Ilan, deputy director of the religious freedom
lobbying group Hiddush, said that the Defense Ministry did not have the
authority to decide whom it will or will not be drafting, nor when it will be
drafting them, and argued that only the Knesset could make such
Although the army cannot immediately absorb the 40,000
full-time yeshiva students currently aged between 20 and 30 at this time, Ilan
argued that if the state was serious about drafting them, it could start doing
so for a few hundred students at the very least.
“Since the Tal Law
expired, the state has been breaking the law of military service...
the implications of its response to the High Court is that it does not intend to
obey [its ruling], at least until after the elections and the establishment of a
new government,” Hiddush director Uri Regev said.
Hiddush has previously
claimed that the government is playing for time and will seek to pass new
legislation after elections exempting haredi yeshiva students once again from
However, the state said in its response to the petition
that 800 haredi men of the 1995 and 1994 cohorts have already presented
themselves to the IDF drafting offices, of which 200 had completed the selection
process, received drafting orders and are expected to enlist in July
The state’s response also claimed that in light of a temporary
arrangement formulated by the army last month and, according to the state, being
implemented by the Defense Ministry, it is not breaking the law.
pointed out that it has begun proceedings for the enlistment of haredi men
belonging to the 1995 cohort scheduled to enlist this year as well as the
previous year’s cohort from 1994, and argued that the expiration of the Tal Law
did not obligate the state to immediately begin the enlistment process for all
yeshiva students from earlier cohorts.
“This arrangement is balanced and
reasonable considering the various constraints facing the IDF,” the state wrote
in its response to the petition.
Attorney Tzruyah Meidad- Lozon, legal
adviser to the Movement for Quality Government, said that if the state does not
immediately prepare for the drafting of the 40,000 yeshiva students outside of
the ’94 and ’95 cohorts, it would not be able to draft them at all in the
“It is appropriate to enlist those who are obligated to serve and
to evaluate which of them can be utilized by the army and which for the purposes
of reserve duty,” Meidad- Lozon said.