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Former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak called upon Justice Minister-designate Yaakov Neeman to oppose the initiative of expanding rabbinical courts' authority into areas of civil law and arbitration yesterday.

"The very notion that dayanim (rabbinical judges) sitting under the emblem of the State of Israel will serve as arbitrators is improper," said Barak at a conference Neeman and himself took participated in. "Giving it a state blessing is hard, and the idea of civil jurisdiction authorities is problematic."

The conference at Ramat Hasharon's Shaarei Mishpat College was dedicated to the dayan Rabbi Shlomo Dichovsky, who had recently retired from the Great Rabbinical Court.

Ultra-Orthodox party Shas is striving to ammend the law of rabbinical courts during the Knessset term, and Haaretz reported recently that Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef had met with Neeman this week to discuss the matter. The amendment was also brought up for inclusion in the coalition agreement with Likud, but was rejected.