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Israel High Court strikes down ultra-orthodox draft law

[JURIST] The Israel High Court of Justice [Official website] ruled [judgment, in Hebrew] Tuesday that a law exempting ultra-Orthodox Jews from compulsory military service is unconstitutional [Haaretz report]. Israel has mandatory military service, but a 2015 law allowed the defense minster to grant exceptions from the draft to yeshiva students. The High Court ruled 8-1 that the law was unconstitutional because it discriminates between religious and nonreligous men who are eligible for the draft. The one dissent argued that not enough time has passed to determine if the law is unconstitutional. The decision of the court will not take effect for one year, giving lawmakers time to create a new draft law that does not discriminate. Proponents of the law have stated that the High Court's decision goes against Jewish decision. Menachem Moses, the head of the United Torah Judaism Knesset faction will be looking to enact a new law "to protect us from the arrogant rulings of the High Court."

Israel has seen on-going tensions related to gender, race, and religion in recent years. In June, a Jerusalem court ruled [JURIST report] that airline employees cannot ask women to move seats to accommodate ultra-Orthodox Jewish men. Israel's Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked [official website] confirmed [JURIST report] that the country's Judicial Appointments Committee has approved the first female judge to a Muslim religious court in April. In March, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia accused [JURIST report] Israel of establishing an apartheid regime against the Palestinian people. In July 2016, Israel's parliament passed [JURIST report] a law that enabled the impeachment of legislatures for inciting racism or supporting armed struggle against the state.

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