A big strictly Orthodox party in Israel sought to allow segregation of men and women at public events when negotiating to enter Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.
According to a report in Israel’s Kan News, United Torah Judaism (UTJ) sought to make it permissible to provide public services, public study sessions and public events in which men and women are separated.
Furthermore, the report suggests that UTJ wanted legal surety that this separation would not constitute legal discrimination.
Yair Lapid, the joint head of main Israeli opposition party Blue and White, described UTJ’s demand as “madness” and chastised Netanyahu for entertaining it.
Referring to Netanyahu’s repeated criticism of Iran’s theocratic rulers and the restrictions Iran’s government imposes on Iranians, Lapid said: “The man who has been speaking out against Iran for 20 years now wants to import it.”
News of UTJ’s push for public segregation will alarm secular Jews, and comes just a day after United Right party representative Bezalel Smotrich – a potential minister in any new coalition – said he wanted Israel to be “run according to the Torah”.
In an interview with Kan Radio, Smotrich said: “That’s the way it should be. This is a Jewish state. The state of the Jewish people will go back to being run as it was in the days of King David and King Solomon, according to Torah law.”
Netanyahu responded to concerns, saying: “The State of Israel will not be a state of Halacha.”