Some Beit Shemesh lawmakers eye splitting city into haredi and non-haredi entities


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Opposition members of the Beit Shemesh City Council submitted a proposal to divide the community into haredi Orthodox and non-haredi municipalities.

The proposal was presented on Sunday to Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, by party lawmaker and Beit Shemesh resident Dov Lipman, The Jerusalem Post reported. The eight lawmakers who presented the plan are part of the council’s nine-member opposition.

Beit Shemesh, a city of some 80,000 approximately 19 miles from Jerusalem, has been a flashpoint for conflicts between haredi and secular residents over the role of religion in the public sphere.

In a widely publicized incident in 2011, an 8-year-old Orthodox girl was spat on by haredim on the way to school for her perceived immodest dress. More recently, the city was divided over the takeover of part of a secular school by a haredi girls’ school.

Mayor Moshe Abutbul of the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party narrowly won re-election in a repeat vote in March 2013 after his followers were accused of tampering.

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