Draft reform advocates are enraged by the response of the Ministry of Defense and the IDF, which was issued in an attempt by the government to block the High Court from ruling on a petition from the advocates demanding the government follow the law and draft all eligible haredim.
Activists Accuse Government Of Dodging High Court Ruling Ordering Haredi Military Service
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Earlier this week, Israel’s Ministry of Defense and the IDF announced that the IDF will begin drafting haredi men in the summer of 2013 as they reach the age of military service – but in a “igradual manner” over an expanded time period of two years.
They also announced that yeshiva students who are 20-years-old and older will not be drafted until the Knesset passes a law to replace the Tal law which granted haredim near-blanket exemption from military and national service.
The Tal Law was ruled illegal by the High Court of Justice in February.
But the court allowed the law to expire at the end of July, giving the government more than five months to draft a replacement law that was constitutional and get it passed by the Knesset.
However, in an apparent bid to protect his haredi allies, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ignored the recommendation of the panels he formed to study the issue and blocked all attempts to propose a new law.
Draft reform advocates are reportedly enraged by the response of the Ministry of Defense and the IDF, which was issued in an attempt by the government to block the High Court from ruling on a petition from the advocates demanding the government follow the law and draft all eligible haredim.
The advocates’ petition reportedly accuses the Ministry of Defense and the government of breaking the law by not drafting haredi yeshiva students beginning August 1.
Shahar Ilan, deputy director of the religious freedom lobbying group Hiddush, told the Jerusalem Post that the Ministry of Defense did not have the right to decide who it will or will not draft or when it will draft them. Only the Knesset can legally make those decisions, Ilan reportedly said, arguing that while the IDF can’t successfully absorb the 40,000 haredi yeshiva students between 20-years-old and 30-years-old who should be legally be drafted immediately, it can do far more than the announced plan provides for – which is zero.
Hiddush and other activists fear that the government will continue to stall until after the election in January, after which they fear it will try to pass new legislation that once again exempts haredi yeshiva students from IDF service, which lead to another round of High Court petitions and more stalling from Netanyahu’s coalition.
The government notes that it has started the process of drafting 18- and 19-year-olds and argues that the expiration of the Tal Law did not obligate the state to immediately draft the others.
“This arrangement is balanced and reasonable considering the various constraints facing the IDF,” the state’s official response to the activists’ High Court petition reportedly reads.
The government also noted that 800 18- and 19-year-old haredi men have already reported IDF draft offices. Only 25% of them, however, have completed the selection process and received draft orders. Those 200 men are expected begin their military service in special haredi units beginning in July 2013.
Attorney Tzruyah Meidad- Lozon, the attorney for the Movement for Quality Government which filed the High Court petition, said that if the state does not immediately prepare to draft the 40,000 yeshiva students aged 20- to 30-years-old, it won’t be able to draft them in the future, violating the High Court’s previous ruling on draft equality.