Israel to stop funding for ultra-Orthodox seminaries whose men avoid draft

Associated Press/February 5, 2014

Jerusalem -- Israel's finance minister says he will stop funding for ultra-Orthodox seminaries whose students do not enlist into the military.

Yair Lapid's announcement Wednesday was in response to an order from the Israeli Supreme Court.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have for years been exempt from military service, which is compulsory for Jewish Israelis. The arrangement has caused widespread resentment among Israel's secular majority and featured prominently in last year's election.

A new system that would gradually reduce the number of exemptions and require all to register for service awaits parliamentary approval.

The ultra-Orthodox have been demonstrating against the plan and condemned the court decision. They claim the military will expose their youth to secularism and undermine their devout lifestyle.

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