Gov't requests third extension from High Court for haredi enlistment law

The High Court struck down the previous arrangement allowing for blanket military service exemptions for haredi men in September 2017 as discriminatory against the non-haredi Jewish population.

Haredi anti draft protest NYC (photo credit: JTA)
Haredi anti draft protest NYC
(photo credit: JTA)
The government has requested yet another extension from the High Court of Justice to pass a law for haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment to the military, after the latest deadline, Tuesday, will be missed after the Knesset was dispersed and elections called.
The High Court struck down the previous arrangement allowing for blanket military service exemptions for haredi men in September 2017 as discriminatory against the non-haredi Jewish population, and gave the government 12 months to pass a new law, which would increase the rate of haredi enlistment.
The bill – drafted by the Defense Ministry at the request of former defense minister Avigdor Liberman – was passed in its first reading, but haredi objections to the proposal led to delays in the passage of the legislation, and the government needed to secure two extensions – one for December and one for January – which will both be missed.
It is probable that the High Court will approve the extension request since refusing to do so would mean that all haredi men of military age would automatically be obligated to enlist, which would lead to serious social unrest in the haredi community.
It would also generate mass contempt for the rule of law – since many haredi men would refuse to enlist – and it would physically impossible, not to mention undesirable, to incarcerate so many people. The IDF could also not absorb the tens of thousands of men who would be required to serve.
Liberman said in response to the extension request that it demonstrated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s desire to pass a “non-enlistment law” drafted by the haredi parties instead of the bill proposed by the defense ministry which he had advocated for.
“Even during the election period, there is no hindrance to pass the law, which got the blessing of the army and was approved [in its first reading] by the Knesset,” Liberman. “Everything is evasions, spin and capitulation to the haredim.”
Yisrael Beytenu will file a petition to the High Court of Justice to prevent the extension.
MK Oded Forer said that the haredi enlistment bill brought to the Knesset by the Defense Ministry “is the law that must be passed” and added that “any attempt by the government to postpone the decision on this issue scorns and ridicules the defense establishment and the citizens of Israel serving in the IDF.”

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this article.