Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak has ordered the army to prepare for a universal draft of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men,according to the Associated Press.
Barak gave defense officials one month to craft a plan to put the new draft procedure into practice in an effort to buy time so they may find an agreed solution.
Barak’s order to prepare for the draft came just hours before the expiration of a law that has granted tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews exemptions from military duty, the AP reported.
In a statement Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said “Starting tomorrow, there’s a new law about equal service. The Israeli military will decide whom to draft, how many to draft – and it will draft.” Netanyahu insisted that the draft plan would lead to members of the minority being forcibly enrolled into the armed forces for the first time, the Telegraph reported. The Telegraph also noted that Netanyahu’s comments seemed to contradict the idea that he had previously pandered and protected the ultra-Orthodox community.
Meir Porush, an ultra-Orthodox community leader and former lawmaker, said drafting his people would unleash a “civil war,” according to the Associated Press.
“The Israeli military is not ready, won’t be ready and doesn’t want to be ready” to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews, Porush said. He added that the Israeli military neither needed nor wanted to be flooded with devoutly religious conscripts.
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Ultra-Orthodox Jews are not the only group affected by the new order. Arab Israelis will also be forced to join the military.
Ahmad Khalifa from the Arab Institute for Human Rights, told RT, “The Israeli military wants to make us serve, not because they need us, but because they want to control the Arab state of mind and divide us.”