UTJ MK Yaakov Litzman
UTJ MK Yaakov Litzman Hadas Parush/Flash 90

For more than six months, MKs from United Torah Judaism (UTJ) have been working the Ministry of Defense's legal advisor, Ahaz Ben Ari, in order to come up with an amendment to the conscription law passed during the last administration.

Their goal is to find a legal formula that will prevent repercussions should haredim not join the army, but that also cannot be challenged by the Supreme Court.

As part of the coalition agreement between Likud and UTJ, the government agreed to allow an amendment to the conscription law before passing the state budget.

A team including Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, Moshe Gafni, and Meir Porush (all from UTJ), the legal advisor from the Ministry of Defense and others have been carrying out talks in order to come up with such an amendment.

They were careful to avoid drawing media attention to their meetings, though last night (Monday) Litzman told Kol Hai radio that "We sat today with a lawyer named Meron in order to advance discussions on the draft law."

Officials from UTJ have confirmed the meetings' existence to Arutz Sheva and stated that "The UTJ party will do all it can in order to allow Torah students to continue studying Torah without interruption. Our position has been, and remains: whoever doesn't study should enlist. Whoever studies Torah should be allowed to study Torah without facing sanctions."

While that is the official line of haredi establishment figures, many note that haredi men are often discouraged from enlisting in the IDF or alternative forms of national service (or gaining paid employment) as a matter of principle. Haredi men who leave "full-time Torah study" are often seen as second-rate and can face difficulties getting married, among other things.

As a result, many are allowed to officially remain registered in yeshivas to avoid the draft, regardless of their attendance.

A slowly growing number of haredim are bucking the trend, however, joining special IDF units which cater to their religious needs. The Draft Bill was designed to encourage more to do so - though critics said it would boomerang and actively discourage enlistment.

In contrast, religious-Zionist yeshivas combine Torah study with army service.