The High Court on Thursday ruled that "the Tal law could become unconstitutional – but for now it will be upheld," as it rejected four petitions against the law that permits yeshiva students to delay their service in the IDF.
According to the Tal law, a yeshiva student can go on "one year hiatus", by the end of which if he decides not go back to the yeshiva he is set to join the military as determined by IDF needs, or perform one year civil service in case the army chooses not recruit him.
Justice Minister Haim Ramon is expected to hold a meeting in this office to discuss the High Court's ruling. Ramon will try and examine ways to introduce amendments to the law, in a bid to reach a situation in which as many yeshiva students as possible will enter the employment market.
Four years ago, the Movement for Quality Government in Israel petitioned the High Court against the Tal law, which was the result of a special committee headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Tzvi Tal, only one day after it was approved in the Knesset in July 2002.
In possibly the largest petition ever to be filed in Israel - the Movement for Quality Government in Israel had signatures of 24,000 citizens – it claimed that the law hurts the basic law of "human dignity and liberty" because it affects the body, assets, ability to earn, and honor of those who do serve in the army and carry the security burden on their shoulders. "The Tal law affects the equality principles and discriminates between blood and blood," the petition said.
'Court comprehends that it can't touch yeshiva students'
The extended panel of nine judges ruled that law "seriously disgraces the respect of those mandated with army service, and if the status quo continues and there will be no significant change in the results of its implementation – it could be rendered unconstitutional."
Deputy Chief Supreme Court Justice Mishael Heshin - who is retired but still serves in the panel on crucial cases – was in the minority and ruled that the law is invalid.
Meretz leader Yossi Beilin said regretted the High Court ruling: "The only practical solution for the situation is that all Israeli citizens of a certain age be drafted."
Labor MK Ami Ayalon called the law "inappropriate and immoral", and added "the phenomenon of exempting yeshiva students is unacceptable in a country that calls itself democratic and equal."
On the other side of the isle, United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush said "it's a good thing that the High Court comprehends that it can't touch the yeshiva students, and we must hope that in the future it won't dare come close to this issue."