Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat's comments on Saturday, by which the phenomenon of women's exclusion is acceptable in haredi towns, stirred a storm among members of Knesset, who said the statement encourages the phenomenon.
Livnat said "I'm not sure I mind it if they decide to segregate bus lines in Modiin Illit or Beitar Illit. It’s their way of life. If it doesn't bother any woman, I'm not sure it bothers me."
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Responding to Livnat's remarks, MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) on Sunday slammed the minister, saying: "Livnat's expression of tolerance toward the segregation of women in haredi cities is very grave, and will encourage further exclusion of women.
"Segregation in the public sphere is illegal regardless of where it takes place, and it is expected of a minister in Israel's government to unequivocally demand respect for the law," he said.
'Haredi women are main victims of segregation' (Photo: Itzik Adari)
According to Horowitz, "Netanyahu's government is expressing two voices – on the one hand it condemns the phenomenon and on the other hand it silently agrees to further radicalization in the haredi sector for the sake of an intact coalition."
MK Ilan Ghilon (Meretz) also criticized Livnat's comments, saying that the phenomenon should not be given a seal of approval. "A haredi woman can choose where to sit on public transportation subsidized by the government in haredi cities or any other place. The main victims are haredi women, who should also enjoy the protection of the law."
MK Nachman Shai (Kadima) noted that there is no "state within a state in Israel. It is a law-abiding country with one law that applies to everyone. A person's dignity cannot be divided," he said.
MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) expressed concern that "Livnat's unreasonable statement" will encourage extremist in the haredi sector. "I expect that (Livnat), who is responsible for promoting the status of women on behalf of the government, will reconsider the negative consequences stemming from her proposal and retract her statement," he said.
Mori Efraim contributed to this report