JERUSALEM (VINnews) — The lawyer representing the Israeli Parks Authority told the Justice Ministry that he sees no issue with providing separate swimming hours in national parks, this in response to the Ministry’s holding back the initiative due to its possible violation of the principle of equality.
In response, attorney Ofir Bar-Tal representing the Parks Authority said that it wishes to support the initiative for separate swimming hours in national parks in order to enable the religious and Chareidi public to visit many different sites.
Bar-Tal said that making a fair and equitable amount of separate hours would cause only minimum bother to those who do not want such separation and would not harm the principle of equality and therefore does not require new legislation to permit it.
Bar-Tal explained that the present law says that if a large community of people cannot enter the parks due to lack of separate times for swimming, establishing such hours would not be discriminatory. He added that the number of hours for separate swimming would be small in comparison to the opening hours and that those who do not want separation have other alternatives at these sites and therefore “any harm if existent would be minor and insignificant and would not violate the principle of equality.”
Despite the fact that courts have said that “separation is never equality,” Bar-Tal said that this refers to situations where the basis for separation is “humiliation, hierarchy, and condescension.” However in a case where both genders are provided with equal opportunities and services and where a certain public wants the separation and it is not being coerced into it and is not coercing others, then “separation can be equality.”
The pilot project was initiated last summer but was stopped by the Justice Ministry until all legal aspects have been clarified. The project would at present involve the Ein Fashcha pool at the Northern Dead Sea and Gan Hashlosha (Sachne) in the Beit Shean valley.