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Saturday, September 06, 2014 

Court declines to rule on Beit Shemesh school, but Abutbol agrees to dismantle partition wall

The court that initially oversaw the case of the Beit Shemesh school now doesn't want to deal with it:
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court said on Thursday that it is not within its authority to prevent the Beit Shemesh Municipality from using a section of a secular school it partitioned without the consent of the Ministry of Education earlier this week.

Judge Gad Arenberg said in his opinion that the school is legally owned by the Beit Shemesh Municipality and that the claims by the ministry were administrative in nature and should be addressed to an administrative court.

The case has aroused consternation on both sides of the communal divide in the tempestuous city and is the latest in a long series of mutual grievances between the rapidly expanding haredi population and the secular and national-religious residents.

Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul presented the ruling as a victory but it is still unclear what will happen on Sunday morning.

The ministry immediately appealed the case to the Jerusalem District Court.

A spokesman for the Beit Shemesh Municipality said that as far as it was concerned the girls from Mishkenot Daat could attend school in the section of Safot VeTarbuyot that was partitioned for them. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education said that it still opposed such a situation but acknowledged that the Jerusalem Magistrate Court’s injunction has now been removed.

Last Sunday night, the eve of the new academic year, municipality construction workers separated the two floors of the state-run, largely secular Safot Vetarbuyot school and a erected a 2.5-meter high wall in order to house approximately 100 pupils of the Mishkenot Daat haredi girls school.

Security guards accompanied the construction workers, who broke locks to gain access to the premises and man-handled some of the teachers who protested the partition.

Following the ruling, Abutbul instructed municipal workers to remove the wall in the schoolyard, which was indeed taken down on Thursday night. The two groups of pupils remained separate, however.
That still doesn't justify the incredibly cavalier attitude they're putting on display against non-Haredis, nor how they turned the Haredi schoolgirls into political pawns several days ago. And there's still more to this story, such as the unused funding they have sitting around in the city hall:
The Beit Shemesh Municipality has close to NIS 70 million provided by the Education Ministry for building classrooms in the city – funds which remain unused. [...]

The city suffers from a severe shortage of classroom space and critics of Mayor Moshe Abutbul and his administration have frequently claimed that large sums of state money remain unused by the municipality.

According to Education Ministry figures obtained by The Jerusalem Post, between 2009 and 2014 the ministry has provided NIS 97.5m. for the purposes of building classrooms in the city. Of this, just NIS 27.5m. has been utilized, just under 28 percent of the available funds, the ministry said.

Eli Cohen, the mayoral candidate who lost in the recent municipal elections to Abutbul, said the figures represented a failure of management.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been warning about this for more than two years,” Cohen told the Post. “They claim it’s ‘political,’ whereas I thought – and still think – that it is an administrative failure that has harmed the haredi community, and the reason is the war of egos between haredi factions that have paralyzed and continue to paralyze the Beit Shemesh Municipality.”

Yesh Atid MK and Beit Shemesh resident Rabbi Dov Lipman said the figures “further demonstrate that the issue at hand here is not haredi versus secular, it’s not a culture war between citizens, but rather a complete lack of responsible management from the city’s leadership,” adding that he would investigate the failure to utilize the money through the Knesset.
Just what is Abutbol and company doing with the money gathering dust in their drawers? I believe the education ministry should revoke that dough, and certainly cut off funding for them if this is how they're going to run business.

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