Israel To End Draft Exemptions For Ultra-Orthodox [View all]
ERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel's defense minister instructed the military on Tuesday to start drafting ultra-Orthodox Jewish men like other Israelis - but it could take a while to implement.
Ehud Barak appeared to be buying time on this politically explosive order by giving defense officials a month to craft a plan to put it into practice.
Some ultra-Orthodox activists vowed immediately after the decision that members of their community would go to jail rather than cut short their religious studies to serve, while others sounded skeptical that Barak would enforce the law. Defense officials say privately that the military is not prepared to immediately absorb tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox men.
Barak's decree fills a legal vacuum on the status of the draft. The existing law exempting tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox men from serving was due to expire at midnight. Israel's Supreme Court had overturned that legislation in February, but it remained in effect as the government struggled to come up with a new formula on an issue that has generated tremendous resentment among Israel's secular majority and modern Orthodox who do serve the compulsory three years.