Mayor fires council member from coalition over appeal

By MELANIE LIDMAN
October 19, 2011 17:33
1 minute read.

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat fired city councilwoman Rachel Azaria (Yerushalmim) from the coalition on Tuesday in response to the liberal council member's appeal to the High Court of Justice last week to remove barriers that separated genders in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shaarim. Azaria, who has long been active in the fight against gender separation on buses and sidewalks in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, was also stripped of her portfolios of early childhood education and community councils.

The municipality said that while they are opposed to gender separation, a member of the coalition cannot file an appeal against the city.

Last week, Azaria filed an appeal with the High Court of Justice over canvas barriers that were erected in Mea Shaarim during Simchat Bet Hashoeva, when many tourists come to the area to see the traditional celebrations during the Intermediate days of Sukkot. The High Court accepted her appeal and agreed the barriers were illegal. Azaria told the Post that both the courts and the police thanked her for the appeal, which brought the issue to the public arena.

"The municipality of Jerusalem is against separating genders in public areas in public areas and will continue to assist the police with this issue as much as possible," a municipality spokesman told the media.

"I am very sorry to see Barkat giving in to extremist haredi members of the coalition and going against the High Court of Justice," Azaria said on Wednesday. "It raises concern about who is really running the city. I will continue to work for the things for which I was elected."

The moves against Azaria come just a few months after she was seriously considered for a deputy mayor position. Haredi coalition members staunchly opposed the promotion as they feel Azaria us anti-haredi. The national religious mother of three has long clashed with haredi members over social issues.


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