Ultra-Orthodox MK Submits Bill Enforcing Gender-segregated Bathing Hours at Israel's Springs

The chairman of the finance committee Moshe Gafni placed 60 bills on the Knesset’s agenda this month including a proposal to enshrine Torah study into Israel's Basic Law and removing chametz from hospitals during Passover

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
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MK Moshe Gafni tears up a coalition agreement in protest against the new government, March 18, 2013.
MK Moshe Gafni.
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

MK Moshe Gafni, from the Ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, has placed some 60 bills on Israel's Knesset’s agenda in the past month, some of which are of a religious nature, and with most of these proposals anchored in the coalition agreements made with Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party.

Among them are arranging for separate bathing hours for men and women at nature reserves, creating a status for Torah study in Israel's Basic Law, and a ban on bringing chametz into hospitals during Passover.

A statement signed by “senior Likud members” on Tuesday vows that the status-quo on state and religion matters “will be strictly maintained, including in the Nature and Parks Authority.”

Gafni has submitted all these bills during previous governments, but in light of the composition of the current coalition, they have been resubmitted to be advanced.

In the bill to regulate bathing sites, which is not mentioned in the agreement between UTJ and Likud, Gafni proposes that the Nature and Parks Authority establish separate bathing times for men and women at a rate not less than 15 percent of the operating hours of each site.

"For religious reasons, bathing is avoided in places where there are no separate bathing hours… Thus, these populations are discriminated against compared to all citizens of the state," the proposal stated. Additionally, Gafni suggested that a local authority with at least six declared bathing places may decide to designate a separated bathing beach.

In accordance with the coalition agreements, a proposed amendment to the Basic Law on Torah study was placed on the Knesset's agenda. According to the proposal, "it will be considered a significant service to the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and will impact their rights and obligations."

In another bill that he submitted, the proposed legislation, known in Israel as the Chametz Law, would force hospitals to keep chametz – all kinds of foods that are not kosher for Passover – off of their grounds during the week-long holiday.

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