State weighs rescinding military conscription orders for haredi yeshiva students

Attorney General says "enlistment of these students at this stage is not commensurate with the draft government bill.”

July 11, 2013 21:01
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)

A response by the Attorney General 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has raised suspicions that military orders sent out to haredi yeshiva students at the beginning of the year will now be rescinded.

Following the expiration of the Tal Law on July 31, 2012, haredi yeshiva students no longer had a legal avenue for the indefinite postponement of military service they had hitherto enjoyed.

Several legal activism groups submitted petitions to the High Court of Justice after the expiration of the Tal Law demanding the immediate conscription of yeshiva students of military age.

Hundreds of conscription orders were sent to yeshiva students of the 1994 and 1995 cohorts, and many presented themselves at IDF recruiting offices, although refused to sign forms on instruction from leading haredi rabbis.

Because the Ministry of Defense had instructed the IDF to issue the conscription orders, the High Court delayed hearing the petitions submitted for immediate conscription.

However, 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,” the Attorney General 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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