Israel's Supreme Court yesterday ruled against legislation that exempts Jewish seminary students from military service, reopening a sensitive issue that could destabilise the country's ruling coalition.
In the ruling, the nine-member court found "unreasonable and unconstitutional" parts of the conscription law that have exempted seminary students from compulsory military service.
The legislation was an amendment to the Equal Service Law, which superseded and weakened a law supported by Yesh Atid that would have required more Charedi men to do their mandatory military service.
The decision follows a massive, nearly year-and-half-lag in which no hearings were held and it appears that the High Court and the government played a game of chicken. They are also against ultra-Orthodox men coming into contact with women and secular Jews who may tempt them away from the Torah.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews make up about 10 percent of Israel's population, but given high birth rates of about seven children per women they are estimated to reach 29 percent of the population by 2050, according to a government report.
The court gave the government one year to pass a new law before the default emergency regulations kick in, which means that all fit Israelis of age will be drafted- with no exemptions for haredim. "This is why we have come to politics". But when Lapid went into the opposition, Netanyahu and his new right-wing government backed by religious parties canceled those reforms. The court did not rule and waited to see whether the state would modify aspects of the law, which it had watered down to please haredi parties on the coalition, but which the court and the petitioners had criticized. "Everyone. Not just for suckers who don't have a party in the coalition", Lapid said.