Gov’t aims to pass law on haredi draft by August 15

Declaration comes in High Court hearing addressing requests for immediate drafting of haredim, cut in subsidies for yeshivot.

July 11, 2013 19:55
2 minute read.
Haredi man and IDF soldiers walk in Jerusalem

Haredi and IDF soldier Tal law Jerusalem 390. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)

The government will try to pass a law on increasing haredi enlistment in the IDF by August 15, the state declared Thursday in a response to the High Court of Justice.

The state’s declaration came as a result of petitions to the High Court calling for the immediate drafting of the approximately 40,000 yeshiva students who are no longer legally exempted from military service.

In light of the deliberations in the Knesset, the state asked that all requests to the High Court on the matter be postponed until after the August 15 deadline.

The so-called “Tal Law,” which was enacted in 2002, allowed full-time yeshiva students to indefinitely postpone their military service. However, following the law’s expiration on July 31, 2012, the only operative law regarding military service for 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.

The state has claimed, however, that it does not need to draft yeshiva students at this stage since legislation on the issue is currently making its way through the Knesset, albeit in a gradual manner.

The state pointed out on Thursday that the cabinet and the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill to draft haredim into the army by 2017 on Sunday.

The bill is now expected to have its first reading in the Knesset next Wednesday after which it will pass to a special committee headed by Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet Shaked for further deliberation.

Meanwhile, a response by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to High Court petitions calling for the immediate conscription of haredi yeshiva students has raised suspicions that military orders sent out to haredi yeshiva students at the beginning of the year may be rescinded.

The attorney general’s response to the High Court’s request for an update indicates that the Defense Ministry is considering postponing the conscription of those who received conscription orders until after a new law is passed by the Knesset.

Activist groups expressed anger on Thursday that, in effect, this 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 currently being devised for haredi enlistment is passed will be able to ultimately gain a full exemption under the terms of the new law, since mandatory enlistment will only be implemented under that law in 2017.

“In accordance with plans for [haredi] enlistment, thousands of [military] orders were sent calling yeshiva students for the years 1994 and 1995 to present themselves for military service, with the first of these conscripts supposed to present themselves on August 18 this year,” Weinstein wrote.

“In light of the current situation, the new draft legislation substantially changes the legal position of the issue, and the possibility of deferring the date for [the soldiers called to service] to present them for enlistment is being weighed.

“The enlistment of these students at this stage is not commensurate with the draft government bill.” Attorney Uri Regev, the director of the religious-freedom lobbying group Hiddush, condemned the state’s position.

“The announcement by the state illustrates the government’s desire to pass a law for equality in the burden of military service without equality in the burden of military service,” said Regev.

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