‘Law to Override Court Ruling’ – Netanyahu Sets Sights on New Law to Conscript Ultra-Orthodox Jews 

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to establish a ministerial committee to draft an updated enlistment law for ultra-Orthodox Jews. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The country’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered an end to government subsidies to schools for ultra-Orthodox men eligible for army enlistment.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to establish a ministerial committee to draft an updated enlistment law for ultra-Orthodox Jews, according to an Israeli media report.

The country’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered an end to government subsidies to schools for ultra-Orthodox men eligible for army enlistment.

The court gave the government until Monday to present a new plan, and until June 30 to pass it.

“Netanyahu is working with the National Security Council to form a ministerial committee to draft a conscription law to override the court ruling or at least create a feeling of some progress towards legislation,” Israeli Channel 12 said.

Netanyahu’s government includes parties supportive of ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi Jews such as the Shas Party, which has 11 seats in the 120-seat Knesset (Israel’s parliament), and United Torah Judaism Party (seven seats).

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The parties fiercely oppose the plan.

“The ruling of the High Court of Justice destroys the foundations of the Jewish identity of the State of Israel,” Ariyeh Deri, leader of the Shas party, said in a statement on X. “The judges of the High Court of Justice want to saw off the branch of existence of the Jewish people.”

“The people of Israel are engaged in a war of existence on several fronts and the High Court of Justice judges did everything tonight to create a fratricidal war as well,” Deri added.

Most Jewish men in Israel are required to serve nearly three years in the military, followed by years of reserve duty. Jewish women serve two mandatory years.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews, who make up roughly 13 percent of Israeli society, have traditionally received exemptions while studying full-time in religious seminaries.

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‘Will Not Tolerate It’

Benny Gantz, the leader of the secular National Union party, whose party is against the exemptions, has reportedly said: “The people will not tolerate it, the Knesset will not be able to vote in favor of it, and my associates and I cannot be part of this emergency government if this law passes.”

According to the State Attorney’s Office, there are some 63,000 enrolled ulltra-Orthodox students who will be legally subject to the draft after April 1, the Anadolu news agency reported. Some 1,500 Haredi students currently receive funding for approximately 56,500 of those students.

Israel’s Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara told the Defense Ministry and Education Ministry on Sunday that the process of drafting members of the ultra-Orthodox community into the army must begin the next day, The Times of Israel reported. She also warned against any attempt to continue funding religious schools that harbor students who dodge their army service, against court orders, stated the paper.

“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,” wrote Baharav-Miara, in a letter first published by Channel 13 news, the paper reported.

Effect on Economy

Meanwhile, the Bank of Israel on Sunday warned of economic damage if more ultra-Orthodox Jewish men do not join the military, Reuters reported.

“As the burden of military service is divided among a higher number of soldiers … the economic impact on each of them declines, as does the aggregate impact on the economy,” the Bank of Israel reportedly said.

“Expanding the circle of military personnel to include the ultra-Orthodox population….will therefore make it possible to answer the increasing defense needs while moderating the impact to personnel and to the economy.”

The ultra-Orthodox sector is now 7% of the economy but will be 25 percent in 40 years time, the report added.

“Only 55% of ultra-Orthodox men work and if this trend continues, Israel will lose six percentage points of gross domestic product by 2065, while the tax burden will jump,” said the report.

Members of the Knesset this week approved an amended 2024 state budget that adds tens of billions of shekels to fund Israel’s war on Gaza.

Over 32,800 Killed

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 32,845 Palestinians have been killed, and 75,392 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

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The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’

(PC, Anadolu)

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