In his first major clash with haredi parties, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit on Sunday declared the bill for restricting mikve use to those following haredi practice to be unconstitutional.
In unusually harsh language, after several legal opinions on other controversial legislative initiatives where Mandelblit demanded modifications but allowed the measures to pass, he called the current bill dead on arrival.
It passed a first reading last week and has been put forward by haredi parties in the Knesset to respond to a High Court of Justice decision ordering the liberalization of access to mikvaot.
Mikvaot are used by religious Jews for ritual purification purposes. Until the High Court ruling, Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox groups controlled the administration of the publicly funded ritual baths, frustrating Conservative (Masorti) and Reform Jews who wish to use them.
In a statement from Mandelblit’s office, he said he has given the government the legal opinion that the bill is unconstitutional because it restricts mikve use to a “specific halachic method in a way that totally prevents” the use of mikvaot “among those who have a different custom.”
This “harms the dignity of man anchored in the Basic Laws, as well as the right to equality,” he said.