JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet approved a temporary exemption for haredi Orthodox yeshiva students from the military draft.
The exemption, passed Sunday in the wake of the expiration of the Tal Law that had allowed haredi men to defer army service, provides a framework for the yeshiva students to join the National Service program in place of being drafted into the military. It was proposed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz.
The exemption expires in August, allowing the new government that will be elected in January an opportunity to pass a substitute for the Tal Law, according to reports.
It is expected that at least 1,300 yeshiva students will opt to join the ranks of national service participants during that time.
"Without today’s decision, thousands of ultra-orthodox men who would be interested in becoming integrated into civilian service in the police, MDA, fire service, social welfare services, etc., would be unable to sign up," said a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.
According to the statement, the number of haredi Orthodox men in civilian service has dropped since the Tal Law expired on Aug. 1 from 2,026 to 1,450.
"Today’s decision will allow the number to return to over 2,000," it said.
Under the Tal Law, haredi Orthodox youth would be able to go to an Israeli army induction center with a letter from a rabbi exempting them from military service so they can study Jewish texts in a yeshiva. The Israeli Supreme Court invalidated the law last February and mandated the government to pass new legislation by Aug. 1, but no such legislation was passed.