Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave the military a month from Tuesday to present a temporary “practical plan” for inducting the ultra-Orthodox in the army, hours before a law allowing Haredi deferment expired.
The temporary measure will stay in place until the Knesset legislates a new law allowing for a universal draft in military or national service.
In the short term, little is expected to change as the Tal Law, in force for 10 years before being struck down by the High Court as unconstitutional in February, voids at midnight.
At that point, the Military Service Law will take effect, which allows the army to draft according to its needs.
No steps are expected to be taken to begin drafting the ultra-Orthodox until the IDF presents the temporary proposal. However, Israel Defense Forces chief Benny Gantz said the army was making preparations for whatever changes might take place.
“Whatever the political echelons decide on the matter, the IDF will act accordingly. It is not a military issue,” Gantz said from the IDF Induction Center at Tel Hashomer, in a meeting with new recruits.
The Tal Law had allowed ultra-Orthodox men to defer their mandatory military service if they study full-time in a yeshiva. Many saw the law as unfair and it acted as a sticking point between the ultra-Orthodox and the rest of Israeli society.
Barak said the proposal should reflect the needs and the values of the IDF, while also taking into account the High Court’s ruling and incorporating the principle of a universal draft. Additionally, Barak asked that the proposal include increase means of cracking down on draft evaders.
The government has failed thus far to draft a universal enlistment replacement to the Tal Law, losing a major coalition partner along the way. A committee headed by Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner was disbanded by Netanyahu after some of the right-wing parties representatives resigned over the committee’s alleged failure to incorporate the universal draft for Arab citizens as well as ultra-Orthodox.
After Plesner publicized his recommendations, the prime minister teamed him up with Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon from Likud to work out a bill that would incorporate all of the Plesner committee principles while also taking into account the objections of those who had bolted from the committee. That attempt also failed to produce results, prompting Kadima to bolt the ruling coalition.