Israel supreme court rules religious seminary students must be drafted to military

Decree likely to send shockwaves through Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition

Israel has ruled seminary students must be drafted to military Photograph: Atef Safadi/EPA

Israel’s supreme court ruled on Tuesday that the government must draft ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students to the conscript military, a decree likely to send shock waves through prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition.

Mr Netanyahu’s coalition relies for its survival on two ultra-Orthodox parties that regard long-standing conscription exemptions as key to keeping their constituents in religious seminaries and away from a melting-pot military that might test their conservative customs.

The ultra-Orthodox conscription waiver has become especially charged as Israel's armed forces, made up mostly of teenaged conscripts and older civilians mobilised for reserve duty, are overstretched by a multi-front war, in Gaza and Lebanon.

“At the height of a difficult war, the burden of inequality is more than ever acute,” the court's unanimous ruling said.


Most Israelis are bound by law to serve in the military, whereas ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students have been largely exempt for decades. – Reuters

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