Despite the expiration of the Tal Law, which deferred ultra-Orthodox men from military service, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced on Wednesday that the 2,000 Haredi volunteers doing a year of civilian national service under the old law can finish out the year with full benefits.
The Tal Law was struck down in court earlier this year as unconstitutional and expired on Wednesday. It provided an option of national volunteer service to ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students who did not wish to continue their studies beyond age 22. Weinstein's announcement followed a request from the National Civil Service Administration that he clarify the legal status of Haredim doing national service.
Weinstein informed the civil service administration that all of those involved in the program, including the volunteers themselves, have acted on the assumption that volunteers would be able to complete their service. This includes the expectation that they be exempt from the draft after they complete their year of national service, and receive any other benefits they would have gotten if the law remained in effect.
Weinstein's office issued a statement saying the attorney general's stance was a reasonable and measured interpretation of the applicable law on the subject. Deciding otherwise, the statement noted, would place the responsibility for the failure of the Tal Law on those who are actually performing their national service.
The National Civil Service Administration said the IDF and Defense Ministry have taken the same position as Weinstein. The administration also said the Finance Ministry has committed itself to funding these volunteers' benefits, including the coverage they are entitled to through the National Insurance Institute, as long as the Justice Ministry rules that the volunteers should continue in the program.
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