Immanuel Parents to Ask High Court to Be Excused From Jail

24 ultra-Orthodox parents who failed to report for their two-week jail sentence last Thursday will petition the High Court on Sunday to revoke their sentence.

The 24 ultra-Orthodox parents from Immanuel who failed to report for their two-week jail sentence last Thursday are expected to ask the High Court of Justice this morning to revoke their sentence.

The parents had been charged with disregarding a High Court order to send their daughters to school with girls of Mizrahi origin, after years in which the girls school, in the West Bank settlement, illegally segregated between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi students.

On Friday the court decided to postpone the hearing regarding the parents' jail sentence until this morning. The prosecution told the court it would not object to revoking the mothers' prison sentences.

Haredim protest
Moti Milrod

Thirty-five men, fathers of the Ashkenazi girls in the segregated school, reported to the Maasiyahu prison in Ramle Thursday evening to serve a two-week sentence. The ruling handed down followed a petition to the High Court from a group of Mizrahi parents who wanted to put an end to the school's discrimination against their daughters.

But two fathers and 22 mothers who were also sentenced failed to appear at Jerusalem police headquarters as ordered by the court.

The Jerusalem Police stopped their search for the missing parents over the weekend. A police officer told Haaretz the missing fathers may come to the High Court today to ask to be excused from jail time due to their families' special needs.

Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism ) said last week he would move his office to the entrance of Maasiyahu prison for the two weeks the parents were to stay behind bars.

MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima ) called on the prime minister and education minister yesterday to suspend Porush. "In view of the prime minister's resounding silence on this affair so far, we need a clear, unequivocal statement that would make it plain that a member of the cabinet cannot use his office and state resources to lead a protest against the High Court," he said.

The court is also due today to hear the petitioners' request to consider alternatives for the fathers' jail sentence. "Imprisoning the fathers would turn them into martyrs, and it's also not right to punish the children by jailing their parents," said the petitioners' attorney, Aviad Hacohen. "As an alternative, they could deny the school's [state] education budget or suspend its license," he said.

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman said over the weekend that "the court had no choice but to rule as it did. We cannot have discrimination based on [ethnic] origin in Israel."

However, Neeman said "the petition should not have been made. The minister said he believed that "a much better arrangement could have been reached peacefully."