Male MKs from Nafatli Bennett's party Habayit Hayehudi have refused to sign a petition aimed at ensuring that women be appointed to the selection committee that chooses chief rabbis.
The petition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, initiated by Yesh Atid MK Dr. Aliza Lavie, has the support of over 40 parliamentarians, including two women MKs from Habayit Hayehudi, Ayalet Shaked and Shuli Mualem. But the party's male MKs refused to sign the document.
Currently, the 150-member selection committee that appoints the chief rabbis includes only one woman – Netanya Mayor Miriam Fierberg.
The Knesset plenum is currently discussing the approval of a law that extends the chief rabbi's term by four months, in order to allow time for the reestablishment of the selection committee in the next few weeks.
The selection committee has 150 members, who are responsible for choosing Israel's chief rabbis once every decade. The law states that 80 places in the committee must be reserved for rabbis, with the remaining 70 comprising public representatives and local authority heads. The prime minister nominates 17 of the public representatives, including five Knesset members, two ministers and 10 others.
The petition asks that these 17 places be allocated to women. "The current structure of the selection committee clearly discriminates against women from the start, as more than half of the places are closed to them," explains Yesh Atid MK Lavie. "In light of the unfortunate political reality whereby the overwhelming majority of local authority heads are men, and since 80 members of the selection committee are rabbis, the vast majority of the [committee] members are men."
Other signatories to the petition include Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid; Labor Party chief Shelly Yacimovich; Meretz head Zahava Gal-On; Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid), who also served on the previous selection committee when she was mayor of Herzliya; Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) ; Isaac Herzog (Labor) ; Likud MKs Tzipi Hotovely and Gila Gamliel; and Hatnuah MKs Amram Mitzna and Elazer Stern.