Barak refuses to exempt students of new haredi yeshivot from army

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has announced that thousands of haredi yeshiva students will no longer be exempt from army service, it was reported on Thursday morning. In a nearly unprecedented move, Barak refused to approve the exemption of 61 new yeshivot that have applied for inclusion in the state agreement that full-time yeshiva students needn't serve in the army. Every year, some 50,000 yeshiva students are excused from army duty under the agreement, which was originally instituted by the country's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. It is the defense minister's responsibility to decide which yeshivot to include.