Saturday 2 March 2024 - 08:45

Gallant’s ’Bomb’ Scares the Haredim: Conscription in Exchange for Dismantling Gov’t

Story Code : 1119762
Gallant’s ’Bomb’ Scares the Haredim: Conscription in Exchange for Dismantling Gov’t
Gallant told a press conference that his ministry would not push to enact a conscription law without approval from everyone in the emergency government. This includes the main coalition parties led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and the “National Camp” bloc led by Benny Gantz.

Gallant is effectively saying that the Haredim will be forced to slap on a uniform like everyone else unless an agreement is reached to solve community’s army service conundrum when the government’s exemption resolution expires at the end of March.    

The Haredi blocs have rejected that proposition and demand their children, who devote themselves to studying the Torah and those who graduate from Torah educational institutes, remain exempt from compulsory conscription. But some members of the coalition, including ministers in the “Likud” and the “National Camp” bloc as well as the official opposition parties oppose the exemptions and want everyone sharing the burden of war.a

Gallant echoed that narrative pointing to “an immediate need for the extension of military service for our active soldiers and the prolongation of reserve duty for reservists,” given the ongoing war on Gaza and the growing challenges facing “Israel”.

“Any draft law agreed to by all parties of the emergency coalition will be acceptable to me,” he added. “But without an agreement from the whole coalition, the defense system under my leadership will not present the law.”

He believed that “it is possible and important to reach an agreed framework for a draft [law], as well as for a growing portion of the Haredi public,” calling on Netanyahu to “lead a joint process with all coalition factions, and to reach the necessary agreements on the draft law.”

Gallant's speech came two weeks after the “National Camp” presented its plan to recruit Haredim into the “Israeli” army. The bloc's ministers and former chiefs of staff, Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, conditioned their support for the extension of military terms of service on the government accepting their plan, which seeks to gradually increase the number of “Israelis” drafted over the next ten years.

In 2015, the conscription law was enacted, which exempted the “Haredim” from service, but the Supreme Court abolished it in 2017, after deliberations, objections, and appeals on the grounds that it violated equality.

Since its abolition, the Knesset has extended the exemption for the Haredim more than once, without an actual law that explicitly exempts them from service. The government must now either enact a new conscription law that resolves the issue or form a majority that allows the extension of the exemption, which is rejected by most segments of “Israeli” society, especially secularists.

According to Yeshi Cohen, a Haredi affairs analyst at the “Kikar Hashabat” website, Gallant’s remarks shocked the heads of the Haredi blocs. 

Cohen told Radio 103FM that “Haredi circles estimate that the bomb dropped by Gallant will lead us, within weeks or months, to a new round of elections. Even they [the Haredi parties and their circles] doubt that what happened was planned with the aim of overthrowing the government.”

He believes that whoever wants to reach an actual solution “does so silently, not in the midst of noise, and does not involve the public in an issue that is so sensitive, and over which the Haredi parties have essentially no authority, compared to the authority of the spiritual leadership of the Haredi movement.”

He doubted that the latter would even agree to the plan presented by Gantz and Eisenkot because their plan “also addresses the recruitment of ultra-Orthodox youth of a certain age for military and civil service, and it is unlikely that the rabbis will agree to remove “Midrashic” students from their seats for the purpose of conscription.”

He noted that the “Haredi” [Orthodox] movement, which is considered the most religiously strict in “Israel”, makes up about 13% of the population. It is a closed, totalitarian community, subject to special restrictions on communicating with the “outside world.”


Members of the community are prohibited from using smart phones and watching television and devote themselves until a certain age to studying the Torah and Talmudic literature. They do not participate in performing duties like all the “citizens of ‘Israel’,” while they obtain their full “rights” like others.