MK Meir Porush of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party on Tuesday said that any Haredi teen who does not study in yeshiva after high school must enlist in the Israel Defense Forces.
Speaking at a gathering of world Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, Porush told the audience, “When I finished learning, I declared as such, and received a notice from the draft office. I completed a special service of four months and even served in reserves.”
“Whoever doesn’t sit and learn [in yeshiva] must enlist,” he said.
Porush, a one-time candidate for mayor of Jerusalem, did not go so far as to break ranks with his party and side with the various factions, including Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home, calling for a universal draft law to force the ultra-Orthodox into the military.
Other United Torah Judaism MKs have voiced firm opposition to mandatory army service altogether. MK Moshe Gafni in October asserted that Torah study is itself a service to the state and that it, and it alone, “kept the Jewish people alive and enabled them to return to their land.” MK Israel Eichler warned that any sort of forced decision could lead to riots “similar to those in Syria and Egypt.”