Education Minister Gideon Saar attacked the Bayit Yehudi party Thursday for being less pro-women than Likud.
Speaking with students at Bar Ilan University, Saar said: "The choice in the next elections is between the Likud – Yisrael Beytenu list, which created a large bloc that gives expression to a variety of streams within Israeli society, and sectoral lists."
"It is legitimate to point out the differences in the lists' positions; to talk about it and not sweep it under the rug," he argued.
Saar said that the voters would have to decide between those who advance the status of women and those who do not.
"The voter will decide if he wants to vote for the 'Likud Beytenu' list, which includes five past and present heads of the Knesset's Committee for Advancement of Status of Women, and which sees the issue of equality between women and men as being important."
"If he does not care about this issue, he can vote for a list whose Number 4, Rabbi Ben-Dahan, who was Director of the Rabbinical Courts, calls for the abolition of the Committee for the Advancement of Women; or whose Number 9, Moti Yogev, led a move toward gender separation at Bnei Akiva [youth movement] when he served as its Secretary General – or whose spiritual head opposes representation by female lawyers in courts."
The last accusation is an apparent reference to Rabbi Dov Lior, the Rabbi of Kiryat Arba-Hevron, who stated in 2010 that representing clients in the courtroom – as opposed to legal work done from the office – is undignified for women.
The accusation regarding Rabbi Ben Dahan is almost certainly a reference to his recent interview with Arutz Sheva, in which he said that he is in favor of the idea of replacing the Knesset's current Committee for Advancement of the Status of Women and Committee for Children's Rights with a unified Committee for the Family.
"Family values must receive a place of honor," he explained. "The most basic component of any nation is the family unit. I will do everything possible to assist in promoting this cause and I will strive to be its leader."
Saar is considered a very close personal friend of Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich, a leading militant feminist figure, since the days when they were both young journalists. He, himself, headed the Committee for Advancement of the Status of Women for some time several years ago.
Bayit Yehudi responded by saying: "The Bayit Yehudi list has three women in the top 12 places – all of whom were chosen without quotas, by the way – while Likud has only one.
"Generally speaking, Likud's decision to attack the only party that opposes a Palestinian state does not serve the nationalist camp. We call on Likud to avoid mudslinging and to conduct a real debate on positions and values."