In an eight-to-one decision, the High Court of Justice on Tuesday struck down Knesset legislation from 2015 that was meant to delay efforts to increase the rate at which ultra-Orthodox youth are drafted into the military.
The 2015 amendment to the Equal Service Law cancels a more aggressive 2014 law pushed by the centrist Yesh Atid party that sought to mandate more ultra-Orthodox youth to enter military service. The later amendment was passed under pressure from the Haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, which rejoined the Likud-led coalition after the 2015 elections and demanded the change as a condition for joining.
The dramatic ruling on Tuesday set a one-year deadline to implement a different framework for handling the ultra-Orthodox draft.
The court was responding to four separate appeals — three of which claimed the current arrangement discriminated against non-Haredi Jews, and a fourth that argued it discriminated against Haredi Jews, who are being asked to increase their military draft rate while other minorities, especially Israeli Arabs, are not required to serve at all.
Eight justices, led by Chief Justice Miriam Naor, ruled that the current arrangement was increasing the inequality in the “draft burden,” rather than reducing it, which was the law’s stated purpose and the grounds for its constitutionality. That made it an “unconstitutional law,” the justices ruled.
One dissenter, Justice Noam Solberg, argued that the law had not been in effect long enough to determine its effect on the military draft, and therefore no determination could yet be made about its constitutionality.