End of Charedi exemption?

In a rare intrusion into the legislative process, Israel's High Court of Justice ruled 6-3 on Tuesday that the "Tal Law", which allows for the exemption of yeshivah students from military service, is unconstitutional.

The need to draft a new law has thrown Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition into turmoil.

The law was passed ten years ago following a court ruling that the historical arrangement, whereby the defence minister annually exempts thousands of Charedi men from serving in the IDF, did not confirm to legal standards of equality.

This week's court decision confirmed what critics of the Tal Law have been saying for years: that it has not changed the situation in any significant way. Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch wrote: "Originally, the legislation harboured the hope that the law would launch a social process that would encourage strictly Orthodox people to serve in the military or take part in national civil service without coercion. These hopes were dashed."

Last updated: 1:58pm, February 23 2012