Israel has accepted President Biden’s Gaza plan, but a top aide to Netanyahu believes it’s not a good deal.

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In 2018, the Supreme Court took a significant step towards equality by voiding a law that exempted ultra-Orthodox men from military service if they chose to study in seminaries instead. This decision was aimed at addressing the disparity in conscription rates between different segments of Israeli society. However, Parliament’s failure to devise an alternative arrangement left a legal vacuum, and a government-ordered halt on the mandatory mobilization of ultra-Orthodox individuals expired in March.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now finds himself in a challenging position, attempting to negotiate a military service compromise with his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners. This effort is driven by the need to preempt any potential Supreme Court ruling mandating the conscription of Israel’s rapidly growing ultra-Orthodox minority.

The urgency of the situation is underscored by the remarks of Justice Noam Solberg, one of the nine justices presiding over the case. Solberg emphasized that Israel is not in a state of tranquility but rather at war, highlighting the pressing need for military personnel. This sentiment reflects the broader concern about national security and the vital role played by the military in safeguarding the country.

The debate surrounding ultra-Orthodox military service is complex and multifaceted. On one hand, there is a commitment to upholding the principle of equality in conscription, ensuring that all citizens contribute to the defense of the nation. This perspective is aligned with the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke the exemption for ultra-Orthodox seminary students, aiming to promote a more equitable distribution of military responsibilities across society.

However, there are also practical considerations at play. The ultra-Orthodox community has historically been resistant to mandatory military service, citing religious and cultural reasons. This resistance has been a source of tension within Israeli society, with some arguing that compelling ultra-Orthodox individuals to serve in the military could infringe upon their religious freedoms.

Moreover, there are logistical challenges associated with integrating ultra-Orthodox individuals into the military. Unlike their secular counterparts, ultra-Orthodox recruits may require special accommodations to adhere to religious practices and dietary restrictions. Addressing these needs while maintaining the operational effectiveness of the military poses a significant logistical challenge.

In navigating these complexities, Prime Minister Netanyahu faces a delicate balancing act. On one hand, he must address the imperative of national security and uphold the principle of equality in conscription. On the other hand, he must navigate the sensitivities of his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners and ensure that any proposed compromise is acceptable to all stakeholders.

The Supreme Court’s involvement adds another layer of complexity to the issue. While the Court’s decision to revoke the exemption was aimed at promoting equality, its intervention has also sparked political controversy and raised questions about the judiciary’s role in shaping military policy.

Ultimately, the resolution of the ultra-Orthodox military service issue will require a nuanced approach that takes into account the interests of all stakeholders. This may involve dialogue, compromise, and legislative action to devise a conscription framework that balances the principles of equality, religious freedom, and national security.

As Israel grapples with these challenges, the need for a comprehensive and sustainable solution remains paramount. The outcome of this debate will not only shape the future of military service in Israel but also have broader implications for the country’s social cohesion and political landscape.

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