IDF soldier with binoculars 370 .
(photo credit: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)
Hours after the “Tal Law” expired, a government watchdog petitioned the High
Court of Justice on Wednesday demanding that the Defense Ministry and Knesset
overturn a temporary order that adds six months to men’s obligatory army
The Movement for Quality Government (MQG) said that with the Tal
Law gone, and the 54,000 yeshiva students who used the law to defer national
service for religious studies now obligated to perform military service, the
temporary order was no longer necessary to boost IDF manpower.
military service has been part of Israeli life since 1949, when the Knesset
approved the Defense Service Law (amended in 1986) empowering the IDF to call up
all citizens. Under the law, men of military age are required to serve 30 months
and women 24 months. However, in 1995, the Knesset passed a temporary order that
added six months to men’s mandatory service, and has periodically extended its
validity such that the period of regular army service is 36 months for men aged
18 to 26.
While the Defense Service Law applies to all Israelis, in 2002
the Knesset enacted the Tal Law, which provided a legal framework for full-time
yeshiva students, mainly from the haredi community, to indefinitely defer
MQG petitioned the court over the temporary law in
2010, asking the state to annul it and in its place extend the draft to include
the ultra- Orthodox to overcome the IDF’s manpower issues; with the Tal Law in
force the court rejected the petition.
In February, however, the High
Court struck down the Tal Law as unconstitutional and with no new legislation to
replace it, the Defense Service Law is now operative for all
MQG said it was turning to the court again because now the
state is empowered to extend the draft to include those tens of thousands of
yeshiva students formerly exempted, making it unnecessary for the Knesset to
extend the temporary order.
The petition argues that the temporary order
is unconstitutional and that it hurts the thousands of young male draftees
forced to serve an extra half year in the army.
MQG asked the court to
order the state to provide justification for continuing the order if it will not
agree to annul it and extend the draft to include yeshiva students.
goal of extending the temporary order [so that male regular service soldiers
serve an extra six months] is so that the IDF can meet its defense challenges,”
MQG argued. “This same goal can be achieved by widening the draft to include
Extending the draft to include yeshiva students
therefore harms soldiers’ rights less than does the temporary order, which
forces male conscripts to serve for longer, MQG contends.
MQG also asked
the court to issue an injunction ordering the defense minister to release all
male soldiers who have served for more than 30 months.
MQG filed a
separate High Court petition on Tuesday, demanding that the court issue
injunctions ordering the state to enforce the draft on all citizens, including
Tuesday’s petition asked the court to order the Defense
Ministry and the IDF to explain why they had not yet formulated any policies to
draft yeshiva students.Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.