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While the public has been kept informed of various emerging deals for the appointment of new Supreme Court justices, behind its back, a new and worrisome deal is taking shape. This is a deal forged within the Bar Association, and it entails depriving women of any representation on the committee that appoints rabbinical court judges.

As Yair Ettinger reported in Monday's Haaretz, it seems that the vote the Bar is slated to hold Tuesday will, for the first time in 12 years, result in a sweeping majority for the representatives of the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox ) parties, while moderate groups that have worked to further women's rights in the rabbinical courts will be shunted aside. This is a change with devastating implications: It means the reactionary Haredi approach will gain control of the rabbinical courts.

A fierce battle has raged in recent years between proponents of this approach and representatives of liberal factions within the religious Zionist movement, headed by groups such as Kolech, Mavoi Satum, the Center for Women's Justice, Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah and others. This battle revolves around the rigid and humiliating approach many rabbinical court judges adopt toward women. Battered wives seeking a divorce, women seeking to convert, women who underwent conversions that these courts refused to recognize or retroactively annulled - all are victims of a system that is becoming more and more extreme, forcing them to traverse a vale of tears.

Giving women representation on the committee that appoints rabbinical court judges improved the situation slightly; sometimes, women representatives even managed to thwart the appointment of a particularly hard-line judge. But now, thanks to the web of unacceptable political deals being spun by attorney Yori Geiron and his colleagues at the Bar, in conjunction with Haredi extremists, who do not represent the broader Haredi public and cause harm to many Haredi women as well, even this achievement is being undone. The rabbinical courts will complete a reactionary turnaround whose essence is the oppression of women.

This murky deal is one more link in a chain of similar deals concocted by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman. Neeman, who has granted religious court judges extraordinary and harmful powers, is now pulling the strings of numerous political deals involving the justice system, each of which is dependent on the others. The representatives of sanity and moderation in the Knesset must therefore intensify their struggle against these initiatives by the minister.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: עסקה אפלה במינוי דיינים