In a rare cooperative endeavor between ideologically diverse groups, two left-wing novelists and two right-wing religious Zionist rabbis issued a joint statement Sunday amounting to thinly-veiled criticism of the way the government is treating the residents of the North. A.B. Yehoshua and Amos Oz joined forces with Rabbis Rafi Freuerstein and Yuval Cherlow of the Tzohar Rabbis Organization and called on the government to appoint a social affairs minister immediately. Since the present government was voted in five months ago, it has yet to appoint such a minister. "I oppose criticizing the government in times of war," said Freuerstein, who drafted the letter signed by the four. "That's why I was careful to write it in the form of proposals, not criticism." The petition, published on the Ynet Internet news site, declares: "Residents of the North must not be left to fare for themselves in the face of military, economic and educational challenges. "Responsibility must not be placed solely on the shoulders of private charity organizations and volunteer groups. Rather, the government should be the primary body ensuring the welfare and quality of life of the residents of the North." Some of the suggestions include declaring a state of war; declaring a state of emergency; providing residents of the North with clear directives for housing; providing bomb shelters or "secure spaces" to all residents in the North; preparing for the upcoming school year, and setting high standards for national solidarity.