´Tal Law set to expire, draft for all must begin´ (JERUSALEM POST) By JEREMY SHARON 07/31/12)
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The Council for Military Service Equality, a leading campaign group
for national service-draft reform, issued a statement on Monday “to
remind the prime minister and the defense minister” that the Tal Law
will expire within 48 hours, after which they will have to “begin to
draft all 18-year-olds into the army,” including from the haredi
(ultra- Orthodox) community.
Since 2002 the Tal Law has provided the legal framework for full-time
yeshiva students to defer national service, but it expires on August
1 with no law to replace it.
This means that the 1949 Law for Security Service – which mandates
military service for all citizens at the age of 18 – will be
incumbent on yeshiva students as well.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said that in light of the failure to
replace the Tal Law, the draft would be widened, once the law
expires, to include haredi men “on the basis of preparatory work done
by the IDF over the past year to prepare for increased haredi
enlistment,” which the government had requested.
It seems unlikely, however, that the 54,000 full- time yeshiva
students who are currently deferring their military service, or the
several thousand haredi men turning 18 this year, will be drafted on
Barak has already stated that the Defense Ministry is forming a
special committee to draft – within three months – a temporary order
to fill the legal vacuum until the Knesset passes a new law to deal
with the issue.
But groups campaigning for IDF draft reform have threatened that if
haredi men are not drafted they will file a stream of lawsuits to the
High Court of Justice against the Defense Ministry demanding that it
adhere to the 1949 law.
In its statement on Monday, the Council for Military Service Equality
added that the budget currently being drafted does not include an
increase in funds for the army to draft large numbers of haredim. The
council said this was a deliberate step which will be answered “on
the ground” and through legal channels.
The religious freedom lobby group Hiddush along with the Free Israel
movement sent letters to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and the
government’s legal adviser stating that come August 1 the transfer of
any funds to yeshiva students on the basis of the Tal Law will be
illegal. Every month NIS 13 million are transferred to yeshiva
students from the state amounting to some NIS 400 million a year. The
organizations have also filed a petition with the High Court of
Justice to prevent the funds being transferred after the law expires.
(© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 07/31/12)
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