High Court to Hear Mediation Request in Immanuel Case

The High Court of Justice will hear a request today from the parties in the school segregation case in the West Bank town of Immanuel - they want to be allowed to begin arbitration.

The parties, parents who have refused the High Court's order to end the segregation of Ashkenazi and Sephardic girls at the Beit Yaakov school in Immanuel, and Noar Kahalakha, the organization that petitioned the High Court against the segregation, asked the court to allow them to seek arbitration from Rabbi David Yosef and Rabbi Yaakov Cohen. Yosef is the son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual mentor of the Shas party and former Sephardic chief rabbi, and Cohen is an Askenazi Haredi rabbinic pleader and is considered an expert in conflict resolution.

The court had also been asked to release the parents before the beginning of Sabbath on Friday and to suspend arrest orders not yet been implemented against other parents.

Justice Edmond Levy wrote that he would consider the arbitration request today, but that the only way for the parents to be released from jail would be to fulfill the court order. He said the prisoners were incarcerated for "contravening an order of this court, and their actions to thwart it" and that "the duty to obey the ruling is fundamental, and as such cannot be dependent on any arbitration process."

Levy said that before the jailed parents could be released, he would require acceptance in writing of the ruling, "the main element of which is the unification of the Hasidic and the general tracks in the school, and a commitment to send their daughters to the unified track."