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Ultra-Orthodox party insists on passing one more judicial reform law

UTJ wants to ensure passage of the next IDF draft law through the override clause

Knesset Member Moshe Gafni speaks during a meeting of the United Torah Judaism party at the Knesset in Jerusalem, December 5, 2022. (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Representatives of the coalition party United Torah Judaism (UTJ) said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured them the next National Service Law would be exempt from judicial review, Ynet news reported on Wednesday.

The UTJ wants to ensure the passage of the National Service Law, intended to establish the terms of the exemption of ultra-Orthodox men from the draft into the IDF, by adding a limited override clause.

This comes after Netanyahu had said repeatedly in English-language interviews that the override clause, which would prevent the High Court from reviewing certain laws, would not be passed.

The law changing the Judicial Selection Committee will be the last of the judicial reform bills to be passed into law, Netanyahu said.

Asked about Netanyahu's statements, Avraham Yustman, a member of the UTJ's negotiating team, told Ynet: "In the case that we need [the override clause] to protect the service law, it will of course be [passed]."

The original deadline set for passage of the override clause, as written in the coalition agreement, expired two months ago, Yustman said, adding: "We are in the midst of events that couldn't have been foreseen during the negotiations."

"There is an ultra-Orthodox sensitivity to what is happening in the street, to the discourse about the judicial reform and everything that follows. More and more ultra-Orthodox people understand today that poking a finger in the eye is not something we want to do, so the general thinking is to try to avoid it as much as possible," he said.

Despite this, he warned that the situation of the current legal status of yeshiva students who do not enlist is untenable from UTJ's perspective.

Israel's National Service Law currently determines the annual allotment of ultra-Orthodox draftees to the Israel Defense Forces.

The law also determines legal consequences, including sanctions, for yeshivas (religious study schools), which do not allow enough students to meet the enrollment allotments.

This National Service Law was passed in 2015 but was ruled unconstitutional by the High Court two years later for violating the idea of equality. Specifically, the court said the law did not contain mechanisms for enforcing ultra-Orthodox enlistment.

The High Court gave the Knesset one year to amend the bill, which has since been delayed several times.

The UTJ party, hoping to avoid additional delays, seeks to ensure the passage by legislating the override clause, which was part of the original judicial reform bill package envisioned by Justice Minister Yariv Levin.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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