'Hametz ruling harms identity of Israel'

Livni opposes ruling permitting sale of hametz, but decries divisive haredi 'monopoly' on Jewish issues.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Kadima ministers Sunday that she opposed the court ruling allowing the sale of hametz [leavened bread products] during Passover. "Between [Shas chairman] Eli Yishai and [former Shinui chairman] Yosef Lapid and between Meretz and United Torah Judaism there is no vacuum," Livni told the ministers. "Kadima is there, most of us do not keep Jewish law and I disagree with the haredi parties on a lot of things, but we have an interest in maintaining the values and symbols of a Jewish state. "Unfortunately, since the religious parties took a monopoly on Jewish issues in a way that expresses only their religious aspects it has created anger and tension that has damaged the Jewish identity of the country." Shas Chairmen Eli Yishai raised the issue at Sunday's cabinet meeting and asked Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann to instruct the State Attorney's office to appeal the decision. "The decision is a black stain on the Jewish identity of the State of Israel," Yishai told the cabinet, "most of the public opposes the decision. I'm drafting legislation on the issue that will prevent the court from interfering from using its subjective considerations to violate one of the cornerstones of Jewish identity."