Barak Dismantles Religious Affairs Ministry
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak announced Sunday the dismantling of the religious affairs ministry, a first step in his program for sweeping social change that will reduce the influence and privileges enjoyed by religious Jews, reported AFP.
"The social-civilian change begins today with the decision to abolish the religious affairs ministry," Barak told a weekly meeting of his cabinet.
The decision was given unanimous backing by the cabinet, Israeli radio reported, but it must also be approved by the parliament, which is in recess until late October, said the agency.
The ministry has always been headed by a member of a religious party, and was run by Yitzak Cohen of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas party until it bolted from Barak's Labor-led coalition in July in protest at his peace policies.
Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, who was given the religious affairs portfolio in the interim, said there was no link with Barak's decision and the jailing Sunday of Shas founder Arieh Deri, added AFP.
"This dismantling of the ministry will allow us to provide greater religious service without being prey to political whims," Beilin told Israeli radio.
Last Tuesday, Israel Wire News Agency reported that Beilin expressed delight with the current momentum pointing to the total dissolving of the ministry.
He told reporters that "if the ministry does not appear at all in the 2001 state budget, this would be an accomplishment for the good of all, including those Israelis seeking religious services."
Barak announced last month a "secular revolution" that includes a constitution, national service for all and educational reform.
His plan would eliminate the religious affairs ministry, require haredi yeshiva students (students of religious institutes) to learn citizenship, English, and mathematics, enact a constitution, allow civil marriages, and require national service by army-age yeshiva students and Israeli Arabs - (Several Sources)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
- Barak Proceeds with Dismantling Religion Ministry
- Israeli Minister Pleased with Momentum to Dissolve Ministry of Religious Affairs
- Israel's Religious Parties, Opposition Denounce Barak's 'Secular Revolution'
- Peres: Sharon's cabinet ruined chances for peace, Labour not to replace religious party amid rabbinical courts crisis