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Tuesday, September 02, 2014 

Beit Shemesh mayor divides secular school building without education ministry's permission

Moshe Abutbol, the Haredi mayor of Beit Shemesh, has once more led to friction with the non-Haredi community:
Municipal workers in Beit Shemesh physically partitioned a secular school on Sunday in accordance with instructions from the city’s municipal administration, in order to provide classroom space for a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) girls’ school.

The municipal construction workers broke locks in order to gain access to the premises of the Safot Ve’tarbuyot school in the Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph neighborhood, erected a 2.5 meter wall in the school yard and separated off an entire floor of the school building for use by the haredi girls’ school, Mishkenot Daat.

The work was carried out without coordination with the Education Ministry, which issued a statement on Monday saying that the opening of the Mishkenot Daat school in the premises of Safot Ve’tarbuyot was “illegal,” and that a closure order on the newly divided facilities would shortly be issued.

On Sunday, the ministry also threatened Beit Shemesh municipal administration with a cessation of funding for the city’s education department in light of the incident if it continued to act without coordinating with the ministry.
One of the city councilors denounced this as another forcible takeover by Haredis:
“This is a creeping conquest of the institution whose ultimate goal is closing the school, as Haredim are not capable of learning together with the secular,” Moshe Sheetrit, a municipality board member affiliated with Likud, said.
The education ministry said it offered the resources to build a separate school for the Haredi girls, but the municipality refused, which only compounds the perception they're intent to continue antagonizing non-Haredi residents. A closure order's been issued, and it says the girls' school is working without a license. That just tells more about Abutbol and company's MO, which is disrespecting public property..

Update: the Jerusalem Magistrate court issued an order for the Haredi institution to vacate the school premises. Update 2: some more on the issue.

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