Anti-Religious Lieberman Seeks To Close Religious Councils, Transfer Power To Local Councils

Israel Beitenu Chairman Avigdor Liberman. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90

JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Despite the tottering Israeli government lacking a majority in the Knesset, Finance Minister Lieberman is still looking for ways to harm the religious establishment in Israel.

B’Chadrei reports that in the coming budgetary legislation, Lieberman intends to submit a bill calling for a transfer of all religious authority in towns to the local councils. The meaning of this would be the possible closure of the religious councils currently responsible for all aspects of religious life and the transfer of authority to the local councils- which in many cases are not headed by religious people.

The new bill would authorize the Religious Affairs minister to transfer all aspects of religion to the local authority as opposed to the current system where religious councils are autonomous and are not subordinate to local authorities. In cities with anti-religious or non-religious mayors the new bill could bring untold harm in the realms of kashrus, mikves, cemeteries and other aspects of religious life.

In explaining the bill, the Finance Ministry states specifically that “the decision would allow local authorities full control over religious activities provided to residents.”

The Shas party would be heavily affected by such a bill since many of its activists serve in the religious councils.

Religious Affairs Deputy Minister Matan Kahane opposed the new initiative. In a response to the publication of the bill, Kahane stated that “the deputy minister of Religious Affairs is constantly working to improve religious services in Israel. The draft version of the budget was not coordinated with the ministry and is unacceptable to the deputy minister. The entire goal of closing religious councils to save money is wrong and will harm religious services.”


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