Israel to end draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox

Associated Press
Ultra Orthodox Jews gather for Siyum Ha’Shas, a celebration marking the completion of the learning cycle of the Babylonian Talmud, a collection of oral Jewish laws and traditions passed down from generation to generation, in Jerusalem, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. Each of the Talmud’s 2711 pages is studied in sequence, one day at a time,  in a process that lasts about of a seven and a half years. More than 10,000 people attended in the event. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

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JERUSALEM (AP) — JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's defense minister has ruled that ultra-Orthodox Jewish men will be drafted into the military like most other Israelis — but it could take time.

Ehud Barak appeared to be buying time on the politically explosive order by giving the military a month to craft a plan to implement it.

Barak issued the order hours before a law that exempts tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox men from serving was due to expire.

The government is struggling to find a formula to end the exemptions but has been unable to bridge differences between religious and secular parties in the ruling coalition.

Some ultra-Orthodox men vowed Tuesday to go to jail rather than cut short their religious studies to serve. Others sounded skeptical that Barak would enforce the law.

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