High Court: State 'dragging its feet' on Tal Law
Ruling on petitions questioning legality of law that allows yeshiva students to halt studies without fear of conscription into IDF. Ruling delayed until 2011 to give State time to examine whether better implementation of law can effect significant change. Justice Procaccia: Pace slow, results partial
The High Court of Justice on Tuesday delayed its ruling on a number of petitions questioning the legality of the Tal Law, which allows yeshiva students to be exempt from military service, until January 2011.
The delay is meant to allow various government bodies to examine whether the State apparatus can affect significant change in the recruitment of haredim to the military through better implementation of the law.
During deliberations, the court leveled harsh criticism at the State for "dragging its feet" on the issue.
"I can only empathize with the discontent we all feel in light of the slow implementation of the arrangement with regards to the recruitment to the military and national service," Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish said.
Earlier this year, Beinish said an additional problem with the law is that it doesn't seem to encourage military service among the haredi community. "It seems that most of the state's efforts involving young men from yeshivot involve civil service, rather than military service," she said.
However, Justice Ester Hayut wrote that recently the government has "adopted a series of measures to advance the issue, including the establishment of the Administration for National Civic Service under the Israeli Prime Minister's Office."
Justice Ayala Procaccia said that since the Tal Law passed in 2002, "the pace has been slow, and the partial results…raise the question of whether the apparatuses selected for the process of bridging the gap between the haredi sector (and the rest of Israeli society) are too minimalistic to reach the law's important goals."
The Tal Law allows yeshiva students over the age of 22 to take a year off their studies in order to obtain professional training or work experience without being drafted. After this year, they must commit to an abbreviated army service or a full year of national service or to return to full-time studies.
The law was passed by the Knesset in July 2002, and in 2007 was extended by an additional five years, after which five petitions challenging the law's constitutionality were filed with the High Court.
In May 2006 the Supreme Court determined that the Tal Law was discriminatory and hence violated the Basic Law: Human Freedom and Liberty, but also ruled that the law should be left untouched for an additional year and a half to see if its application would improve.