Attorney rails against ’25 years of endless postponements’ in High Court hearing on Haredi draft

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

Movement for Quality of Government in Israel attorney Eliad Shraga at a High Court hearing on the issue of ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF, February 26, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
Movement for Quality of Government in Israel attorney Eliad Shraga at a High Court hearing on the issue of ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF, February 26, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Eliad Shraga, an attorney who heads the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, embarks on a 25-minute diatribe against the government and against the court for having failed to bring about the end of blanket exemptions for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students from military service over the last quarter century.

“We are going nowhere. We are in the same closed circle for 25 years. We’ve been in this same place and said we cannot continue to discriminate between blood and blood, discriminate between civilians,” Shraga tells the court. “It’s been 25 years of endless postponements, 25 years in which the court has become a partner in this, and gives repeated postponements to the state.

“At a time when there is bereavement hanging over so many homes, when so many have people injured, this discrimination cries out to the heavens. We cannot continue to plaster over this, especially at a time when the IDF is calling out for manpower,” he adds.

Acting Supreme Court President Uzi Vogelman and Justice Noam Sohlberg both repeatedly try, with limited success, to get Shraga to address the core issue, which they say is the 1998 decision by the High Court that determined that the government cannot grant blanket exemptions from military service without legislation.

It was this decision which precipitated three pieces of legislation over two decades aimed at finding a solution to the ultra-Orthodox enlistment conundrum.

The government nevertheless passed a cabinet resolution last year, without legislation, allowing the state to continue to not draft ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students to the military while it worked on formulating a new law. The resolution expires on March 31.

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