The Knesset Election Committee is set to discuss on Wednesday the possibility of disqualifying Hareidi parties over their lack of female representatives on their lists. The discussion was prompted by complaints from women's groups over what they called “discrimination” against women by Hareidi parties.
In response to the complaints, United Torah Jewry and Shas – the two parties named in the complaint – said that they respected women, but that they had a different “role to play in Jewish life.” That role did not include serving as Knesset members, the parties said.
“Our parties operate on the principles of public modesty, as required by Jewish law,” the Hareidi parties said. “Men have one role, women another. There is nothing discriminatory involved here. Is a party that wishes to operate according to Jewish law in the Jewish state not sufficiently fit to serve in government?”
Women's groups continued to protest against the Hareidi lists. A spokesperson for the Ken Women's Rights group said that “equality is one of the basic principles in the State of Israel and despite this authorities refuse to deal with the issue, and allow the Hareidi parties to act in the way of benighted regimes.”
Even other parties lag behind in the number of women they place on their lists for elections. Although women are at least half the population, the spokesperson said, they will number no more than 20% of Knesset members.