AG to High Court: Ya'alon wants to push drafting haredim until December

Statement the first official confirmation that the state may defer drafting the current group of draftable haredim.

Haredi anti-draft protest 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Haredi anti-draft protest 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein notified the High Court of Justice on Tuesday that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon wished to put off drafting 608 haredim into the IDF until at least December.
Originally, and as recently as July 11, the state told the court that the 608 men were due for conscription no later than August 8, after their draft date had already been deferred for a full year.
The state also discussed varying scenarios and the impact of the deferral on other groups of haredim, as draft dates are spread out throughout the year.
While speculation has been rampant that drafting the young men would be further delayed, Tuesday’s statement was the first official confirmation that the state might defer drafting the current group of draftable haredim indefinitely, to the point that they could all be exempt.
The state’s declaration came as a result of petitions to the High Court calling for the immediate conscription of the approximately 40,000 yeshiva students who are no longer legally exempt from military service.
The so-called “Tal Law,” which was enacted in 2002, allowed full-time ultra- Orthodox yeshiva students to postpone their military service indefinitely. However, following the law’s expiration on July 31, 2012, the only operative legislation regarding military service for haredi 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.
Activist groups have previously noted that, in effect, any state deferral of the draft date past August 8 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 that the government is devising for haredi enlistment passes, will ultimately be able to gain a full exemption under the terms of the new law, since mandatory enlistment will go into effect under it in 2017.
The state explained that Ya’alon had ordered that deferral letters go out to the haredim in question on August 6, absent any court order to the contrary.
At the same time, the state said it had delayed the letters’ immediate mailing to give the court time to intervene should it choose to do so.
Weinstein explained the state’s decision in light of the fact that the Knesset was in advanced stages of passing legislation that would fully resolve the issue of drafting Haredim going forward.
He noted that the Knesset had already passed legislation based on the Peri Committee recommendations and that four special parliamentary meetings were scheduled for the Knesset recess – which begins on Thursday – to expedite passing the new bill into law.
The state also said the expected legislation would push off drafting the current cohorts of haredim by a few years, such that a delay until this December was essentially meaningless.
Uri Regev, director of religious freedom NGO Hiddush, responded to Weinstein’s statement, declaring, “This proves again that the defense minister is not trying to draft the haredi yeshiva students, and he is doing everything in his power in order to evade it.”
Regev added regarding when the case started one year ago with the IDF issuing draft orders, “the current response shows how justified we were when we originally said that it was all a public relations exercise. Now the state confirms it.”
He called on the court to “end the discrimination of treating the blood” of haredim as more important than the “blood of others.”
Meanwhile, at a Tuesday morning hearing in which petitioners were asking the High Court to end subsidies for haredim who did not perform IDF service, the court slammed the state for giving unsatisfactory answers, though it did not issue an order or give a date for issuing one.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.