MK Yaakov Asher
MK Yaakov AsherHillel Meir/TPS

The Knesset has approved in its first reading legislation designed to expand haredi representation in public service appointments in local government and other government authorities and state institutions.

The legislation was proposed by MKs Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Asher (UTJ), and aims to designate a certain number of positions in each state institution for members of the haredi sector, proportional to their percentage of the general population. In addition, local councils would be required to designate a number of positions for members of the haredi sector proportional to the local haredi population.

In order to rectify the current situation more swiftly, the legislation also seeks to have haredim appointed to newly available public service positions in double their proportion in the population, for a period of five years after the law is passed.

The introduction to the legislation explains that: “In 2016, a law was passed requiring proportional representation of haredim and of new immigrants in public service positions. The law actually required preference to be granted to haredi applicants for these positions, but did not apply to local government positions or to state institutions.”

Currently, haredim are underrepresented in local government even in towns and cities where they constitute a significant portion of the population. In Jerusalem, for instance, where haredim make up over 40% of the Jewish population, only 2% of municipal workers are from the haredi sector, and most of them occupy minor or menial positions.

Furthermore, in official institutions such as the Bank of Israel, the Postal Bank, the Israel Electricity Company, the Ports Authorities in Ashdod and Haifa, Israel Railways, HMOs etc., the percentage of haredim employed is extremely low, and in several of these institutions there are no haredi employees whatsoever.

The bill passed in its first reading with 11 MKs in favor and none in opposition, and now proceeds to the Knesset’s Regulatory Committee.