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Effort to End Orthodox-secular Strife

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The leaders of all but two Knesset factions attended a meeting convened jointly by Premier Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres Sunday to seek an end to the ongoing strife between the Orthodox and secular communities which has erupted in violence in recent weeks, mainly in Jerusalem.

All present pledged to cooperate to prevent lawlessness during the High Holidays which begin Wednesday evening, and in the months ahead. A prestigious committee was established to review the religious status quo and recommend changes if necessary. The only factions absent from the meeting were the Communists and the extremist Kach Party.

It was held after a quiet Sabbath in Jerusalem, the first after five successive weekends of rioting by ultra-Orthodox Jews against the screening of films on the Sabbath. With a “ceasefire” now apparently evolving, an era of conciliation and co-existence seems attainable.

Nevertheless, secular and religious Knesset members emerged from the meeting with different forecasts. Dedy Zucker of the Citizens Rights Movement said film shows would be resumed after Yom Kippur. But Avraham Shapira of Agudat Israel vowed never on the Sabbath.

Jerusalem’s secular population now hopes that the soccer stadium, long delayed by Orthodox protests, will finally get Shamir’s approval, and work will start on its construction. Shamir, who is acting Minister of Interior, has sided with the religious on the issue. He faces court action, including a suit filed by Reuben Rivlin, chairman of the Herut branch in Jerusalem who is also chairman of the Betar soccer team.

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