The High Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that the government must stop funding the studies of yeshiva students whose draft was deferred.
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An expanded nine-member panel issued the interim injunction compelling the state to stop transferring stipends to thousands of ultra-Orthodox students. The decision applies to those who were born in 1994, 1995 and the first half of 1996, who received a draft notice for various dates beginning from August 2013, and who did not report for the draft because of decisions by Defense Minister Ya’alon.
Ya’alon deferred the drafting of the yeshiva students three times. But the justices said that whether he actually had the authority to do so “is in doubt.”
The state supports these yeshivas, and for all practical purposes funds the yeshiva students’ studies, based on various criteria for allocating Education Ministry funding to religious schools. The High Court’s decision on the interim injunction was made by a majority of eight to one, with Justice Neal Hendel dissenting.
The interim injunction was issued after the Movement for Quality Government, the Hiddush organization for religious freedom and equality, former MK Roni Brizon, attorney Yehuda Ressler, the Hitorerut movement and the Israeli Forum for Citizen Equal Rights and Obligations submitted a petition against the state. The petitioners asked, through attorney Gilad Barnea, to freeze the transfer of the allocations to 54,000 yeshiva and kollel students because of the abolition of the Tal Law.
Regarding a related High Court petition demanding that the Haredi yeshiva students be drafted immediately, the justices ordered the state to submit its response by the end of March, while warning that if new legislation on this issue hasn’t been completed by then, “we’ll consider what this requires [us]” to do.
Rabbi Uri Regev, Hiddush’s CEO, welcomed the court’s decision. “The High Court made it clear to the Knesset that even its infinite patience has a limit, and that it’s no longer willing to allow hundreds of millions [of shekels] to be funneled to the yeshivas in violation of the law,” he said. “Ever since the Tal Law was overturned a year and a half ago, the state has been violating the law by not drafting the yeshiva students. It adds insult to injury when it finances their remaining elsewhere. The High Court has put an end to this scandal.”
The ultra-Orthodox Shas party said it “regretted that the High Court justices joined this evening in persecuting the Torah world, while crudely intervening in a sensitive legislative process that is being discussed in the legislature during these very days.”