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Israel: State Will Stop Funding for Yeshiva Students Who Are Not Being Drafted

(Feb. 6, 2014) On February 4, 2014, Israel’s High Court of Justice, in an extended bench decision of eight to one, issued an interim injunction prohibiting the state from transferring financial stipends to haredi (Jewish ultra-orthodox) yeshiva students born between 1994 and mid-1996. Yeshivas are institutions of Jewish religious studies. The state will accordingly stop providing funding to such students in the absence of a legal framework for distribution of the funds, following the expiration of the “Tal Law” at the end of July 2012. (Jeremy Sharon, Haredi Draft: Anger Erupts as High Court Puts a Hold on Payments for Thousands of Yeshiva Students, THE JERUSALEM POST (Feb. 4, 2014); Gil Cohen et al., The High Court of Justice: The State Will Cease to Fund Yeshiva Students Who Will Not Be Drafted [in Hebrew], HAARETZ(Feb. 4, 2014).)

The “Tal Law” refers to the Deferment of Military Draft for Yeshiva Students Whose Occupation Is the Study of Torah Law 5762-2002 (SEFER HAHUKIM [Official Gazette] No. 5762 p. 521; for information on the Tal Law and its expiration, see Ruth Levush, Israel: Supreme Court Decision Invalidating the Law on Haredi Military Draft Postponement, Law Library of Congress website (Mar. 2012).)

The Court’s decision prohibits continuation of governmental funding to yeshiva students who previously were given mass deferrals from the military draft and national service by the Minister of Justice. The decision relies on the Knesset’s (Israel’s parliament) failure to complete legislation that would define the haredis‘ military or service obligations. The Court reportedly ordered the state to provide an update on such legislative efforts by March 31, 2014. (Sharon, supra, & Cohen et al., supra.)