The state submitted a request to the High Court Sunday asking that the implementation of the current IDF draft bill, which is set to expire in the coming months, be extended for another seven months, thereby lending government leaders more time to reach an agreement on a newly-formulated law that has threatened to rip the coalition apart.
The government is seeking to complete legislation regarding Haredi enlistment into the IDF by the end of the Knesset’s winter session, frsutrating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's stated goal to complete a draft bill legislation by the end of the current summer session.
The existing Israeli Defense Service Law expires in September after the High Court of Justice (HCJ) deemed it unconstitutional, meaning that the Knesset is obliged to pass an alternative law before then.
Last year, the HCJ made a majority ruling canceling an amendment ratified by the Knesset almost two years prior to the Conscription Law which lowered the annual quota on the number of Haredim required to draft into the IDF.
The original amendment to the Conscription Law, which was spearheaded by Yesh Atid Leader Yair Lapid when his party was part of Netanyahu’s previous coalition, constituted a major breakthrough in bringing Haredim into the military by setting an annual quota for Haredi conscripts, setting in motion a remedy to an issue that has long been a point of contention in Israel.
With Lapid's amendment, Haredi men of military age were permitted to delay their service on the proviso that the annual quota of ultra-Orthodox conscripts was met.
However, with the formulation of Netanyahu’s next right-wing coalition in 2015 which is largely dependent on ultra-Orthodox parties and which also saw the removal of Lapid’s party, an adjustment was immediately made to the law, reducing the quota of Haredi conscripts.
The state is arguing that the time given in order for the government to come up with a replacement law, agreeable to all coalition members, was insufficient and is therefore insisting that more time is needed.
The state also claims that it became apparent only this week that it would not be able to come up with a new bill by the end of the current Knesset session. Therefore, two months before the deadline that would mandate all Haredi youth enlist in the IDF, it is seeking a seven-month extension.
If the government is unable to successfully formulate a new bill before the current deadline, the Defense Service Law will automatically apply to all Yeshiva students, most of whom currently receive indefinite deferments, and will likely not be enforced.
The state specified to the court the various efforts made to advance a new IDF draft bill including sessions at the State Attorney’s Office and of the Special Committee of the Defense Ministry.
Itay Ben Horin, who appealed to the court on behalf of The Forum for Equal Burden, expressed strong opposition to the extension.
“For 20 years we have been delaying implementation. Let the army mobilize according to the Defense Service Law and leave political matters to be completed in your own time," he said.
"All IDF recruits should not be held captive by some 80-year-old rabbis who have not yet decided what to do on the matter and are trying to cook up a shady deal above the heads of those serving.”