Top Attorney to Mediate in Immanuel Segregation Controversy

Attorney Ram Caspi and former Shas leader Aryeh Deri yesterday joined the efforts to reach a compromise between the state and the ultra-Orthodox community in the row over the illegally segregated girls school in the West Bank settlement of Immanuel.

Caspi, one of Israel's most high-powered commercial attorneys, told Haaretz he was helping to mediate between the ultra-Orthodox Slonim community and the Education Ministry and State Prosecutor, in order to prevent the imprisonment of mothers who had flouted the law. He said he was acting "out of belief that this rift must be prevented."

Ram Caspi
Eyal Toueg

Caspi said Deri was also involved in these efforts.

Senior ultra-Orthodox rabbis yesterday also took part in efforts to quell the escalation between the ultra-Orthodox community and the state authorities, sparked by the ongoing dispute over the illegal segregation of Ashkenazi and Sephardi girls in Immanuel.

The High Court of Justice sentenced Immanuel parents to prison for breaking the law by refusing to allow Sephardi girls to study alongside the Ashkenazi girls at the settlement's school.

Earlier this week, the court ruled that nine mothers were to be imprisoned after the fathers had completed their two-week sentence.

MKs Moshe Gafni and Uri Maklev, of United Torah Judaism's Lithuanian Degel Hatorah faction, were physically and verbally assaulted yesterday in Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood, reportedly by extreme ultra-Orthodox members of the Neturei Karta movement.

The two MKs had been sent by Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, head of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community, to reach an agreement between the ultra-Orthodox community and the Israeli establishment.

According to Degel Hatorah sources, Elyashiv supports the ultra-Orthodox parents' struggle in Immanuel, but decided to intervene to prevent the possible incarceration of the mothers next week.

Although the assault is probably unrelated to the row over the segregation in Immanuel, it occurred as the two MKs were headed to a meeting with the Slonim rabbi of the ultra-Orthodox sect at the center of the affair.