Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

13 Elul 5759 - August 25, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Barak Appoints Panel on Drafting Yeshiva Students

by Mordecai Plaut

Prime Minister Ehud Barak has appointed a public committee to formulate a suitable arrangement for drafting yeshiva students, as provided in the coalition agreement made with United Torah Judaism (UTJ). The Torah party did not ask for any of the normal perks of participation in the government, such as ministerial positions, money or even Knesset committee chairmanships, focusing exclusively on the issue of yeshiva students.

The more than 50 year old arrangement whereby the Minister of Defense issues deferments to yeshiva students who are completely dedicated to Torah learning was upset by the High Court last year that ruled that it was illegal. The Court recommended that the Knesset pass legislation governing this area, and graciously allowed the traditional arrangement to continue for a year to allow the Knesset to act.

The new committee has just three months to produce a solution acceptable to all sides. UTJ asked that it be appointed "immediately" to give it more time. One of the issues that held up its formation was the definition of the task with which it would deal. UTJ wanted the role of the committee to be narrowly defined, and Barak wanted to give it a broader charge.

Heading the relatively large committee will be retired Supreme Court justice Tzvi Tal. Other members are: cabinet secretary Yitzhak Herzog; Maj.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Nativ, a former OC Manpower and today head of the IDF's veterans' association; Chaim Yisraeli, a Defense Ministry deputy director-general; Israel Sadan, Chadera mayor and former head of the Border Police; Bnei Brak Mayor Rabbi Mordechai Karelitz who was involved in the coalition negotiations for UTJ; Rabbi Asher Tannenbaum, the director-general of the Vaad Hayeshivos that has traditionally served as liaison between the yeshiva community and the army; attorney Yaakov Weinroth; Rachel Stobitzky, a deputy legal adviser to the defense ministry; and deputy attorney-general Yehoshua Schoffman.

Justice Tal was considered to have occupied the "religious" seat on the High Court. Attorney Weinroth is also religious.

Barak has asked the committee to suggest legislation that would allow him as defense minister to use his judgment on various aspects of the problem. Some suggestions made in the statement include deferring service, or releases for those who study continuously.

The committee has also been asked to suggest military frameworks that would allow for integrating some chareidi youth into service. These include more chareidi Nahal units and other military training.

Barak also instructed the committee to examine the possibility of reducing the current age limit for releasing yeshiva students from the military call-up pool, to allow these sectors to enter the work force.

The prime minister noted that since the committee is dealing with the specific arrangements of such a sensitive topic, it would be able to bring sectors of Israeli society together.

The anti-religious Shinui party condemned the committee's composition, as expected, criticizing Barak for failing to appoint secular civilians.

This is certainly a topic that Yated will follow.

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