The IDF should begin drafting yeshiva students, Brothers in Arms said Wednesday in a petition to the High Court of Justice. The NGO, which has been in the forefront of the judicial reform protests and claims to represent soldiers’ and reservists’ rights, said a proposed conscription bill would benefit haredim (ultra-Orthodox).
The petitioners said the Defense Ministry should explain to the court why it has not been giving aptitude tests, medical examinations, or orders to report for duty to yeshiva students.
The government should have begun the drafting procedures because it knew in advance that the previous draft law was set to expire on June 30, after the 2014 legislation had been struck down by the High Court in 2017, and it had been granted repeated extensions for six years, the petitioners said.
Brothers in Arms called for the cancellation of the June 25 cabinet decision that directed the IDF not to enlist yeshiva students until next March while it prepared a new haredi draft law. There was no primary legislation granting an exemption for the students, the petitioners said.
In recent days, the government has begun drafting a new law. Haredi parties are reportedly threatening that they will dissolve the government if the exemption is not passed immediately after the Knesset’s summer recess ends on October 15.
Why is an NGO trying to force haredim to join the IDF right away?
The order against drafting the students was discriminatory because it created a special privilege for a demographic, exempting them from an obligation that the rest of the population had to bear, the petitioners said. Serving in the IDF is a moral and basic value of the state, they said.
The current conscription conditions were “a finger in the eye to the rule of law, and the involved parties in the executive branch openly defied the honorable court and the norms outlined by it,” the petitioners said.
“The government of Israel has consciously chosen to act illegally, unconstitutionally, and unequally because of the interests of a handful of leaders,” Brothers in Arms said in a statement announcing the petition. “Israel’s security depends on the People’s Army, and in order to maintain the People’s Army, everyone must share the burden. We demand a new contract with our haredi brothers because their blood is not separate from ours. The State of Israel is a democratic state of law, and we call on the High Court to intervene in the illusory arrangement that the government invented for itself and to remember that the rule of law prevails.”
The High Court rejected a similar petition by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel on July 9 after the previous drafting regime expired. The court said the situation was still too new, the government had not had time to address the issue, and all other avenues of recourse had yet been explored.
The new bill would reportedly lower the permanent age of exemption from 26 to 22 years and focus on civilian national service and employment in the haredi community.