Mideast Daily News

High Court’s Invalidation of Haredi Draft Exemptions Pit Netanyahu Cabinet against Itself

By Michael Friedson | The Media Line

September 14, 2017

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The pitting of ministers sitting in the same cabinet against each other offers a look into the depth of the political and social disunity that stems from the issue of draft exemptions for students of religious seminaries. Although all Israeli men and women are conscripted at the age of 18, the political influence of the ultra-Orthodox sector has created a reality whereby many thousands receive deferments after averring full-time study – often fictitious. That all others give two, three years of longer to army service while the so-called ‘Haredi’ population does not has always been one of the most divisive wedges against Jewish unity. Now that the High Court has struck down the law that permits the perceived inequality, all sides of the issue are scrambling to make sure the result not desired does not follow. In Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has declared that equality – and equal army obligation – will govern the nation’s army service policy. But Liberman’s colleague, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri who represents an ultra-Orthodox party, has declared that Netanyahu is on his page in drafting what he referred to as a “court-meddle-proof” bill that will perpetuate the unbalanced military obligation. Observers see the battle over the new legislation as the lightning rods pro- and con- that will arguably be sufficiently contentious to bring down the Netanyahu regime.

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