Up-and-coming politician Yair Lapid made good on an earlier promise when he petitioned the High Court on Monday against the government’s decision to substitute national service for military service for some 1,300 members of the ultra-Orthodox community.
“The government decision to exempt 1,300 Haredim from military service is a despicable one based on improper political considerations, and made in contempt of the High Court of Justice ruling from four months ago to disqualify the Tal law,” Lapid said. “The Haredi parties, conniving with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, took advantage of the pre-election period in order to express their disrespect for the rule of law, their disrespect for both the secular and religious public and their disrespect for the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces.”
Lapid, a career journalist who is making his first run for Knesset, has made universal conscription a centerpiece of his campaign, harnessing popular anger as the country struggles to find a way to include communities that have traditionally shied away from service, such as the ultra-Orthodox and Arabs.
In the petition, Lapid lambasted the government for going against the High Court and wrote “this is an effort to circumvent the court’s ruling that is meant to continue and perpetuate the longtime discrimination against those who serve and is a product of extraneous circumstances that have taken on a life of their own based on improper, sleazy political motives meant solely to maintain the Haredi parties in the coalition.”
At a Yesh Atid party convention on Sunday Lapid promised to take the matter to court and declared, “We’ll make sure this will be the last time the rule of law in Israel is bent by extortion.”
Lapid also called on Defense Minister Ehud Barak to block the decision. “Mr. Minister, you have the option to go out on a high note by sending a draft notice to all these young people, and ensure that every young man of 18 bears the burden,” he said.
At the end of July, the Tal Law, which provided exemption from military or national service to members of the religious sector for 10 years, expired. Several unsuccessful attempts within the Knesset to draft a substitute failed, but ultra-Orthodox youth have yet to be drafted en masse.