The much awaited incorporation of Druse imams into the Civil Service will begin by March, Deputy Minister for Development of the Negev and Galilee Ayoub Kara (Likud) announced on Monday, after the Civil Service Commission allocated 45 positions to that end.

Unlike state-employed Muslim imams, the Druse religious leaders who serve their communities in all the life-cycle ceremonies were for years employed through the Druse religious councils and not directly by the state. For 10 years, Kara struggled to change that status in order to provide the Druse imams with the appropriate conditions and wean them of their dependency on the council heads, who determined their salaries.

The Knesset’s Finance Committee on Monday conducted a brief follow-up discussion on the change of the Druse imams’ status, at the behest of MK Majallie Whbee (Kadima), who noted that the decision was to be implemented by November 2010. A senior official for the Civil Service Commission explained that they were currently regulating the status of the new positions, which would include 60 imams employed in threequarter- time positions.

Committee chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) demanded updates on the commission’s progress soon, and declared that his committee would convene by the beginning of March if the issue was not resolved.

In a letter to Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander and Interior Ministry director-general Gavriel Maimon in September, Prime Minister’s Office director-general Eyal Gabai noted the importance in changing the way the Druse imams are employed. The way in which they join the councils, and the fact that the scope and conditions of their employment are not regulated, he wrote, “creates inequality among the imams and in the opportunities to be appointed an imam in the religious councils.”

“To do away with any talk of discrimination between the Druse and the general Arab populace, alongside the obvious advantages of supervision and regularizing vis-a-vis the Civil Service Commission, it is most appropriate to have the imams become state employees in the fiscal year 2011- 2012,” Gabai had said.

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