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.
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.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews have for decades evaded compulsory military service, which is required for Jewish men and women when they turn 18.
Charedi Jews, as opposed to the modern or "religious Zionist" Orthodox who regularly serve in the IDF, were exempted from military service under agreements that go back to the founding of the state.
Previous attempts to conscript ultra-Orthodox have led to violence and protests.
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The ultra-Orthodox, known as the Haredim, make up about 10 per cent of Israel's nine million citizens and receive subsidies for studying the Torah instead of working.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party accused the Supreme Court of being disconnected from the Jewish people, adding that the decision was "completely detached from our heritage and tradition and from the people".
The law's stated goal of reducing the inequality of the burden of military service was not achieved, the justices said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled those reforms in 2015 after forming a new coalition with religious partners. The Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional in 2009 and it expired in 2012.
Opposition politician Yair Lapid, however, welcomed the court's decision, saying: "This is why we have come to politics". Benjamin Netanyahu can no longer continue to wriggle out all the time.
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