Israeli Prime Minister Appoints Two Bar-Ilan University Legal Experts to Keshev Committee
Date: 2012-06-18 Hour: 10:00
Two Bar-Ilan University legal experts have been appointed to a prestigious committee set up by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to propose an alternative to the controversial Tal Law, which addresses the special exemption from mandatory IDF military service given to the ultra-Orthodox.
Bar-Ilan Deputy President Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats and Prof. Yedidia Stern, both of the Faculty of Law, are among the ten members of the Keshev Committee, which is tasked with proposing an alternative that would lead to a more equal societal division in regards to military and national service. Keshev is an acronym for the Hebrew phrase "promoting equality in sharing the burden".
When the Kadima and Likud parties signed a coalition agreement in May to establish a national unity government, the agreement stipulated that the parties would enact a law regulating fair and just distribution of the burden of military service among the various segments of the population in Israel. The Keshev Committee's recommendations for integrating the ultra-Orthodox and Israeli Arabs into army or civilian service must be submitted by the end of June.
The Tal Law was passed in the Knesset in 2002. According to the Law, yeshiva students at the age of 22 choose between one-year of civil service alongside a paying job or a shortened 16-month military service and future service in the reserves as an alternative to study.
Since its passing five motions against the Law were filed with the High Court of Justice claiming it violated the principle of equality. In 2005 the State admitted in a response to a Supreme Court petition that the Tal Law had failed to change enlistment arrangements for ultra-Orthodox Jews, as only a few dozen had enlisted in the army as a result of it. The law was extended in 2007 by another five years. This year the High Court of Justice ruled that the Law is unconstitutional.
Prof. Zilbershats, who has served as Deputy President of Bar-Ilan for the past two years, was the Dean of the Faculty of Law from 2004-2007. She specializes in international law and constitutional law, as well as immigration and citizenship. The author of numerous articles on citizenship and international law, she published a book on The Human Right to Citizenship and has been a member of various official government committees. Prof. Zilbershats received her LLB and PhD degrees from Bar-Ilan University, and an LLM from New York University.
Prof. Stern is a full professor in the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law, and served as its dean from 1994-1998. His areas of specialization include religion and state, Jewish law, public law and corporate law. He received an LLB from Bar-Ilan and an LLM and SJD from Harvard Law School. He is Vice President of Research at the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) and co-editor of the scholarly journal Democratic Culture published by the Faculty of Law and the IDI.
The Keshev Committee is comprised of five members of Knesset: Committee Chairman Yohanan Plesner (Kadima), Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi), and Einat Wilf (Independence), and five representatives of the public: ordained rabbi and attorney Jacob Weinroth, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yehuda Segev, head of the IDF’s Personnel Directorate; Yoav Kish, who heads a non-governmental protest group combating ultra-Orthodox Jews attempting to avoid IDF military service; and Profs. Zilbershats and Stern.