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Israeli Supreme Court rules controversial military law as unconstitutional

(Xinhua)

08:42, February 22, 2012

JERUSALEM, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli Supreme Court of Justice declared the so-called Tal Law, that exempts Jewish religious students from the mandatory military service, unconstitutional on Tuesday and will not extend the law after August.

With six justices in favor of ruling it out and three against it, the controversial law, named "Deferral of Service for Yeshiva Students for whom Torah is their Craft Law," will be rescinded as per Aug. 1.

The Knesset parliament passed the Tal Law as a temporary law in 2002 to encourage ultra- Orthodox men to enlist in the army while preserving their ability to defer army service, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Among the petitioners against the law was the Government's watchdog Movement for Quality Government and the left-wing party Meretz.

Military service in Israel is compulsory by law for both men and women, but exemptions are generously awarded to many religiously observant members of the country's ultra-Orthodox community who also enjoy a monthly state stipend during the course of their studies at Talmudic colleges.

Senior military officials are concerned about the growing discrepancies, with secular Israelis shouldering the bulk of the burden and freshly-discharged troops denied similar financial benefits.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the Supreme Court's ruling on Tuesday.

"The Tal Law, after ten years, did not meet expectations, nor did it lead to the required changes in all aspects concerning equally sharing the burden and expanding the number of citizens who undertake the civilian obligations," he said after hearing the verdict.

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