Israel: Conscription draft

July 7, 2013

Israel’s cabinet have approved a draft law to abolish exemptions from military service. Jewish seminary students had previously been excluded from conscription at the age of 18. The draft comes as the first cabinet in a decade without ultra-orthodox members looks to tackle the issue. If passed it will become fully implemented over a four year period, which the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes will ease the transition. He said they will make “special consideration” for the “special needs of the ultra-Orthodox community”, and their aims were to integrate young ultra-Orthodox men into military and civilian service and the employment market. Under the proposed law, only 1,800 “exceptional students” out of a possible 8,000 will be eligible for exclusion. One ultra-Orthodox student said he believes that “everyone has their own way to guard the country”. Conscription has been a contentious issue, many Israelis feel that those with exemption are a burden on the economy. However ultra-Orthodox Jews feel it is their democratic right to devote themselves to religious study.