Petition: Haredi exemption 'like dark regimes'
High Court asked to annul government decision to exempt yeshiva students aged 22 and up from military service. 'Decision tramples the Zionist majority,' petitioners claim
Aviad Glickman • Ynet
The Hiddush association for religious freedom and equality and the Israeli Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden petitioned the High Court of Justice on Wednesday against Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the government, demanding that the court annul the decision to exempt yeshiva students aged 22 and up from military service, which would allow them to integrate into national service.
The petition, filed by Attorney Yehoshua Shufman, claims that the decision was made in serious violation of all basic rules of administrative law, which regulate the legal way for making decisions.
"The decision is illegal, violates the Tal Law, a High Court ruling and the principle of equality, and should therefore be annulled," the petitioners said, requesting an interim order which would prevent the decision from taking effect on September 1.
According to the petitioners, the decision was discussed by the government along with more than 100 other proposals, including some dealing with increasing supervision on the shipping industry, prescriptions provided by pharmacists and prison systems.
The petitioners claimed that the ministers were not given sufficient information on the decision, relevant considerations were not discussed and the plan was presented as a marginal aspect of the budget discussions, without holding a separate discussion and vote on the matter.
'No public discourse'
The two organizations claimed that the decision contradicted a High Court ruling from 1997, according to which the defense minister has no authority to postpone the military service of all yeshiva students.
They added that the decision harmed the constitutional right for equality, saying that the Tal Law harms the equal share of the burden as it is, and that the new government decision worsens the damage caused.
"Only rarely does the government make a decision which is so illegal from so many aspects," Hiddush Director-General Rabbi Uri Regev told Ynet. "The government decision vulgarly tramples the Zionist majority which carries the burden, including most of this government's voters."
According to Miri Baron, chairwoman of the Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden, "The cabinet decision, which was made in utmost discretion, without a public discourse and not in good faith, contradicts the values of democracy and is reminiscent of dark regimes."
The Movement for Quality of Government in Israel petitioned the decision last week, and the High Court is expected to combine both petitions into one discussion.
Ynet also reports:
68% of Israelis opposed to draft exemption for haredim
Poll conducted by Hiddush shows that two-thirds of Israeli public opposed to cabinet decision to grant all-encompassing draft exemption for yeshiva students
A poll conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute for the non-profit Hiddush for Religious Freedom and Equality found that 68% of the Jewish public is opposed to the government decision to cancel mandatory military service for yeshiva students, allowing them to perform one year of national service in its stead.
The poll surveyed a 500-person sample representative of the adult Jewish population in Israel.
About three weeks ago, the cabinet decided to grant an exemption from military service for haredim aged 22 and older.
According the poll, opposition to the decision crosscuts religious affiliation and sector with 80% of secular people, 81% of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, 65% of traditionalists in opposition.
Some 72% of people earning less than average are opposed to the decision, and 71% of people earning a higher than average income are opposed to it. Sixty-nine percent of people under the age of 30 are opposed to the decision, alongside 70% of people above the age of 50.
Contrary to claims that haredim are opposed to the decision, the poll shows that they are generally satisfied with the exemption, with 62% supporting the government decision.
In his response to the survey's findings, Hiddush Director Rabbi Uri Regev called upon the government "to come to its senses and immediately announced the revocation of the perverse decision to grant a sweeping exemption to yeshiva students."
According to Rabbi Regev, "The way in which the government acted is testimony to just how much it knew the public would not be prepared to come to terms with such a policy, as is shown by the poll's results. The decision is unlawful on such a serious level that it is cause for concern regarding the rule of law in Israel. One can only hope that Netanyahu and Steinitz will be able to admit the mistake and stop ignoring public will."