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Israeli high court freezes funds to haredi yeshivas over draft deferrals

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Supreme Court has frozen nearly $3 million in funding to haredi Orthodox yeshivas until the government stops military deferments for their students and passes a new law on drafting yeshiva students.

A special court panel ruled 8-1 late Tuesday that state funding for students aged 18-20 who have received draft notices since last summer but did not appear for their induction be withheld from their yeshivas.

The students deferred their draft under the defense minister’s authority.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid said he would immediately halt the funds. The Yesh Atid party he heads made a universal draft law, which it also calls the Sharing the Burden, one of its major campaign issues.

The February budget transfers already took place on Monday, however, according to Ynet.

The Tal Law, which allowed haredi men to defer army service indefinitely, was invalidated by the Supreme Court in February 2012 and expired in August that year. Haredi yeshiva students since then have had their drafts deferred.

A government committee headed by lawmaker Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party is working to finish revising a universal draft law, which has already passed its first reading in the Knesset.

United Torah Judaism lawmaker Moshe Gafni called the funding freeze “a declaration of war against the haredi public in Israel and in the world.”

The Sephardic Orthodox  Shas party in a statement called the decision “offensive and unnecessary” and said it “contributes to the deepening divide and rift in Israeli society, and to the haredi public’s feeling that they are under attack by the media, legislators and judiciary.”

 

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