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Israel: Supreme Court orders conscription of students in Talmudic schools

The Israeli Supreme Court ordered Tuesday the conscription of students in Talmudic schools hitherto exempt, which could weaken the coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported by ultra-Orthodox parties.

“The executive does not have the authority to order not to apply the law on military service to yeshiva (Talmudic school) students in the absence of an adequate legal framework”, the Court ruled. “Without anchoring this exemption in a legal framework, the State must act to impose the law.”

This decision comes as Parliament relaunched a bill on June 11 with a view to progressive conscription of the ultra-Orthodox, against a backdrop of war in the Gaza Strip.

Military service is compulsory in Israel, but ultra-Orthodox Jews (13% of the population) can avoid it if they devote themselves to the study of the sacred texts of Judaism, under an exemption established by David Ben-Gurion, founder of the State of Israel, in 1948.

Some critics believe that the text studied by Parliament, supported by Mr. Netanyahu but criticized by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, is far from meeting the manpower needs of the Israeli army.

“As things currently stand, the non-execution of the law on military service creates great discrimination between those who are required to do so and those for whom measures are not taken to mobilize them (within the military). (army),” the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

“At this moment, in the midst of a difficult war, the inequality of the burden is more pronounced than never and requires the establishment of a lasting solution”, according to the Court.

– Difference –

Despite the “political and budgetary implications” of this decision, its implementation could be long and difficult, estimates Gilad Malach, specialist in the ultra-Orthodox community at the Institute for Democracy in Israel.

“It seems that there is a large gap between the number of people who can be mobilized, almost 70,000, and the number of those who will be mobilized”, says- he told AFP, predicting that only a few thousand will be this year because the army “must prepare”.

On the political level, “it is possible” that the ultra-Orthodox parties “resign so as not to contribute to the recruitment of the ultra-Orthodox”.

Mr. Netanyahu would then lose his majority in Parliament (64 seats out of 120), the two ultra-Orthodox parties having 18 deputies.

“These do not threaten to overthrow the government for the moment”, according to the ultra-Orthodox news site Kikar Hashabat.

The Likud, party of Mr. Netanyahu (right), estimated “surprising that the Supreme Court, which has avoided forcing the recruitment of yeshiva students for 76 years, is doing so now, just before the historic bill (on progressive conscription, Editor's note) is finalized”.< /p>

The leader of the United Torah Judaism (Ashkenazi) party, Yitzhak Goldknopf, criticized “an expected, very unfortunate and disappointing decision” and the other ultra-Orthodox party, Shass (Sephardic), ruled that “no power” could “prevent the people of Israel from studying the Torah”.

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, one of the plaintiffs before the Supreme Court, called on “the government and the Minister of Defense to respect the decision” and “mobilize yeshiva students”.

< p>The leader of the opposition, Yaïr Lapid, welcomed a “clear” decision, estimating that “tens of thousands of recruitment orders” should be issued “for young ultra-Orthodox men who escaped the military service”.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116