Attorney General tells defense, education ministries to begin working to draft Haredim from tomorrow

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara arrives to casts her ballot for the head of the Israel Bar Association at a voting station in Tel Aviv on June 20, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara arrives to casts her ballot for the head of the Israel Bar Association at a voting station in Tel Aviv on June 20, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara sends a letter to the legal advisers for the Defense Ministry and Education Ministry stating that the defense establishment will have to start working to draft ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students into military service starting April 1, and that it will need to tell the High Court of Justice by the end of the month what steps it is taking to do so.

“Beginning April 1, 2024, there will be no source of authority for a blanket exemption from military conscription for yeshiva students, and the defense establishment must act to draft them into military service in accordance with the law,” writes Baharav-Miara, in a letter first published by Channel 13 news.

She adds that the state must present the court with a “supplementary declaration” by April 30 as to how it is fulfilling that obligation.

The letter comes as a cabinet resolution from June 2023 ordering the military not to enforce conscription on young Haredi men is set to expire at midnight tonight, after the law granting Haredi yeshiva students unlimited annual conscription deferrals expired that month.

It also comes following an interim order issued by the High Court on Thursday freezing the state financial support provided to ultra-Orthodox yeshivas for students who receive annual deferrals from military service after the cabinet resolution expires.

Baharav-Miara also writes in her letter that the Education Ministry may not circumvent this High Court order by increasing the amount of money it pays to yeshivas per yeshiva student. Since some yeshiva students still have a valid military service deferral from before June 2023, it was theoretically possible to bypass the court order by paying more money for each student with a valid deferral, thereby maintaining the previous income level of a given yeshiva.

“The Education Ministry will refrain from any step which would circumvent the interim order… whether by increasing the budget and the ‘points value’ of the support criteria, or through other funding channels, or any other way,” the attorney general writes.

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