Israeli court suspends subsidies for ultra-Orthodox who do not serve in the military | Trending Viral hub


TEL AVIV — Israel’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered an end to state funding for ultra orthodox yeshiva students not serving in the military, a blockbuster ruling that could jeopardize the Prime Minister’s leadership Benjamin Netanyahu as it wages war with Hamas in Gaza and clashes with its key ally, the United States.

The government faces another deadline Monday to draw up a new military recruiting plan, as the war sparks widespread public anger over exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox, a long-standing point of tension that could now spark political unrest.

The court has placed new pressure on Netanyahu, whose fragile governing coalition depends in part on two ultra-Orthodox parties that have demanded that the exemptions remain in place. A collapse of Netanyahu’s government would push Israel into new elections, which polls suggest it would likely lose.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s War Cabinet features centrist former military generals who have given voice to growing frustrations among the Israeli Jewish public over the fact that the ultra-Orthodox have been exempt from service even amid the war between Israel and Hamas. .

Most Jewish men in Israel must serve almost three years in the military, plus years of reserve service, while Jewish women must serve two years of mandatory service. But for decades, there have been exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox, who make up about 13% of Israeli society, to allow them to study full-time at religious seminaries.

The Supreme Court previously ruled that the exemptions are discriminatory and gave the Israeli government until Monday to present a new plan that addresses those concerns, and until June 30 to approve it.

Netanyahu’s attorney general, Gali Baharav-Miara, wrote in a court filing that she saw no legal basis for not moving forward with ultra-Orthodox recruitment on Monday.

On Thursday, Netanyahu asked the court for a 30-day extension to establish a new plan, but the court did not immediately appear to respond to his request.

The high court separately issued its interim order preventing the government from funding monthly subsidies for yeshiva students who are between 18 and 26 years old and who have not received a deferment from the military within the past year. He said the funds would be frozen from April 1.

The ruling will affect about a third of the roughly 180,000 seminary students who receive government subsidies for full-time studies, according to Israel’s Channel 12 television station, which said the subsidies could be temporarily covered by the government’s discretionary funds. the ruling coalition.

Centrist members of Netanyahu’s war cabinet, both former military generals, have called on all factions of Israeli society to contribute to the country’s war effort.

Netanyahu’s main political rival, Benny Gantz, on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision on yeshiva funding, writing in a mail in X that it was the “obvious” decision, prioritizing Israel’s “need for soldiers in times of severe war, and our society’s need for everyone to participate in the right to serve the country.”

“The time has come for the government to do the obvious,” he said. “It is time to act”.

More than 32,000 people have been killed in the Israeli offensive in Gaza, launched after the Hamas attacks on October 7, in which some 1,200 people were killed and some 260 were taken hostage.

Tensions over mandatory service exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox have only increased amid the deadly war, which has also killed more than 500 Israeli soldiers.

The ultra-Orthodox have said that conscription would threaten their way of life and their commitment to upholding Jewish commandments that they say protect Israel as well as its military.

Aryeh Deri, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, called the court’s decision “unprecedented harassment of Torah students in the Jewish state.”

Dr. Aharon Eitan, a researcher at the Jerusalem Political Research Institute who focuses on the ultra-Orthodox and who is also a certified rabbi and graduate of ultra-Orthodox Yeshivot, has a different opinion.

About two decades ago, he decided to enlist in the Israeli army as a combat soldier, saying he believed that “even if you’re studying Torah, I think you still have to participate.”

“This is not the typical ultra-Orthodox approach that I’m sharing with you,” he told NBC News in a phone interview Thursday night. “But there are ultra-Orthodox who advocate that position.”

Eitan said he believed that “just because you are studying Torah does not mean that you are exempt from paying your dues and sharing in the defense of the country, especially after October 7.”

A survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute in March found that a majority of Israelis want changes to be made to the exemptions granted to the haredi community.

Among Israeli Jews surveyed, a large majority (70%) said they thought changes should be made to the exemptions granted to Haredim. Among the Haredi, only 19% agreed, and 34% of Israeli Arabs shared the same opinion.

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