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Row in Israel over ultra-Orthodox draft threatens Netanyahu’s government

Ultra-Orthodox leaders are threatening to topple the government should the IDF start recruiting yeshiva students to serve in the army.
Ultra Orthodox Jewish youths block a road in Bnei Brak as they protest against their conscription into the Israeli armed forces, on April 1, 2024.

Ultra-Orthodox parties threatened this past week to leave the Netanyahu coalition government, in a move that could possibly cause the government to collapse if the Israeli military goes ahead with the instructions by the Supreme Court to start recruiting yeshiva students to the military. The students have long been exempt from army service under now-lapsed legislation. 

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that as of April 1, the state can no longer refrain from drafting to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) ultra-Orthodox men over the age of 18 while military service remains mandatory for Jewish Israeli men and women in the country. It also ruled that state funding to rabbinical schools will cease April 1. Currently, a yeshiva can get between 470 ($127) and 800 ($218) shekels per student from the state. 

A civilian army 

Israeli legislation renders military service mandatory for all Jewish citizens over the age of 18 and out of high school. Jewish Israeli men are required to serve nearly three years in the army, while Jewish women are required to serve two years, though the latter can ask to be exempt from service for religious reasons. 

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