State to impose civil service rules on religious councils

"Until now, an entire sector of public servants was not bound by disciplinary accountability," Barak Calev tells 'Post.'

haredi man walking 88 (photo credit: )
haredi man walking 88
(photo credit: )
After 40 years, religious council employees are to become subject to civil service disciplinary rules, the state informed the High Court of Justice this week. The state's message came in response to a petition by The Movement for Quality Government and the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement. "The state shares the hopes of the petitioner to make order of and formalize disciplinary rules in the religious councils," the state's representative, Dana Manha, wrote. "The state believes there is great value in imposing disciplinary rules on the religious council employees and applying proper rules of administration in the councils, thereby generating public confidence in them." At a preliminary hearing held on February 4, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Justices Elyakim Rubinstein and Hanan Meltzer wrote, "We believe there is substance in the arguments raised in the petition, and since the state clarified its position that there is reason to apply disciplinary rules to religious council employees, and because we believe it is right to also consider applying the Civil Service Law (Appointments) to the councils, we expect the state to take action to advance this matter." The Movement for Quality Government petition was filed by attorneys Barak Calev and Daphna Kiro-Cohen. In it, they wrote that for 40 years, the Religious Affairs Ministry, now called the Religious Services Ministry, has refused "without good reason" to apply the disciplinary rules or the rules for making appointments to the councils. Because the authorities, who were empowered by law to impose the disciplinary rules and the legal civil service appointments procedures, refused to do so, "they are effectively approving improper conduct and behavior that is unethical and in violation of the rules of proper administration by the religious councils." The petitioners were referring to the kinds of actions that fall short of being criminal but nonetheless violate the administrative code of proper behavior. "Until now, "an entire sector of public servants was not bound by disciplinary accountability," Calev told The Jerusalem Post. "In view of the state's announcement to the court, we have sealed a very wide breach in the system."