A compromise proposal enabling the release of the parents of the Emmanuel students was approved Sunday by the High Court of Justice, after being presented by the parents and petitioners with the approval of the State Prosecutor's Office. The judges ruled that the incarcerated parents would be released on Sunday.
"We reached highs we shouldn't have reached, I hope the matter is indeed concluded, "Judge Edmond Levy said, noting that "we are one people after all." Petitioner Yoav Laloum heralded the "end of discrimination in Emmanuel" at the end of the hearing.
Shortly after the ruling, the imprisoned fathers who arrived from the Maasiyahu Prison, stepped out of the court into a crowd of hassidim who welcomed them with ovations, song and dance. MK Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) was also present and said, "This is our victory which showed the whole world that one can sit in prison in order to better educate our children. The High Court won't acknowledge its mistake – but it made a big one."
One of the fathers who were released said, "The decision is very pleasing. We got in jail since a doubt had been cast on the authority of the great minds of our generation, for this we were imprisoned and we were wrongly accused. Not only is there no discrimination (in Emmanuel) but there is true partnership." He further noted, "Prison is not a pleasant place, but we were greatly strengthened by the massive support. At the end of the day, the court accepted the appeal of the generation's great minds."
According to the proposal, the students will return to the Beit Yaakov school for the school year's remaining three days and will study the "love of Israel" together, without separation. During the subsequent summer holiday a long-term solution must be found and presented to the court by August 25.
The High Court judges appeared satisfied with the compromise during Sunday's hearing. Judges Edmond Levy and Hanan Meltzer, however, emphasized one point: The parents' representative must acknowledge that the compromise is within the implementation of the court's previous verdict, which revoked the discrimination in the school. The parents' attorney agreed and handed the proposal to the prosecution, which after careful examination accepted the compromise as well, and confirmed it upholds the verdict.
The parents' lawyer, Attorney Mordechai Green said, "The spirit of Judge Edmond Levy's decision from Friday made us understand that the judges want the verdict to be followed to the full. It was then decided to reach an agreement. The honorable Rabbi Ovadia Yosef sees it as a solution to a social problem. The girls from Emmanuel are currently very confused."
Emmanuel parents await ruling (Photo: Guy Assayag)
During a break in the hearing Laloum said, "According to Rabbi Yaakov Yosef's instruction, we made it clear we wholeheartedly accept Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's proposal. This decision has already ended discrimination in Emmanuel, this case has run its course."
Attorney Shosh Shmueli of the prosecution said, "We welcome any agreement which upholds the verdict."
The agreement noted that following consultation with their rabbis the two parties renounce any disagreement, call for the cessation of mutual slanders, and agree that educational establishments must accept students solely on the basis of religious background and not according to ethnic affiliation. It was further agreed that there was no room for separations and fences in the school. The petitioners also agreed that the parents be allowed to establish a separate school on the following school year.
Reading out Psalms outside court (Photo: Guy Assayag)
According to the agreement, during the next three days the school will hold conferences and lectures for students of all courses "in support of unity and the love of Israel."
Shas chairman Minister Eli Yishai attended the hearing and said prior to the official approval, "I am confident that ultimately this sad and painful affair will end to everyone's satisfaction with love and unity. I do not think it is just to take a girl, put her in a school where she is shunned, and be coerced to study there. The solution is not the High Court but getting up and doing the right thing. "
Some 30 haredi worshippers also arrived at the Supreme Court Sunday and read out chapters of Psalms. Police and Border Guard forces were present at the site to prevent any possible riots.