Cabinet to open civil service to ultra-Orthodox employees
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Cabinet to open civil service to ultra-Orthodox employees

Deri praises revolutionary ‘affirmative action’; PM also unveils aid plan for Arab sector, expanded dental care for children

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Shas leader Aryeh Deri (left), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman  at the weekly cabinet meeting in the Prime Minister's Office, Jerusalem, December 20, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shas leader Aryeh Deri (left), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman at the weekly cabinet meeting in the Prime Minister's Office, Jerusalem, December 20, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The cabinet was set Sunday to approve measures enabling more ultra-Orthodox workers to find employment in the civil service, as part of a strategy to integrate the community into the national workforce.

“Today, the cabinet will approve steps to integrate the ultra-Orthodox population into the civil service,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting. “The integration of all sectors in Israel into the labor market is very important, both for them and for the continued economic growth of the State of Israel, to build up its economy and – of course – to reduce societal gaps.”

“We want to integrate the ultra-Orthodox public into both the public and private sectors. We want them to be integrated into the labor market, and today is an important step in that direction.”

Minister for Negev, Galilee and Periphery Development Aryeh Deri, head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, called the scheme a “first-of-its-kind plan in which the government opens the door to the ultra-Orthodox population and places them in civil service jobs.”

“The number of ultra-Orthodox in the civil service is negligible, and we intend to change this – it is a form of affirmative action,” Deri continued, noting that the ultra-Orthodox face unique challenges in finding work.

“For decades I have been hearing complaints from ultra-Orthodox that they have been unsuccessful in being accepted for jobs in the public service, despite having served in the IDF and having a range of academic degrees,” he said. “They are rejected outright for various reasons even at the stage of presenting their resumes.”

Deri said the government plan will see hundreds of ultra-Orthodox workers integrated into the civil service by 2020.

“The ultra-Orthodox will study in various tracks, a kind of cadet’s course for ultra-Orthodox, and will receive preferential treatment in civil service tenders,” he said. “Today, a clear message is going out to the private sector – integrate ultra-Orthodox into the labor force.”

The prime minister also announced other government policies, among them a five-year aid plan for the country’s Arab communities, an expansion of free dental care by two years to include children up to the age of 14, and a NIS 1 billion ($260 million) budget in preparation for the conversion of the northern community of Harish into a new city.

“This is an outstanding and unparalleled Zionist act,” Netanyahu said of the city, which he predicted would grow beyond its projected 50,000 residents.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman explained that the dental plan will be incremented each year until eventually all children up to the age of 18 will get free care. “Dental health is an integral part of public health and I am glad that it has been approved,” he said. “Israeli children will no longer need to be ashamed of not receiving dental treatment.”

Also at the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu praised the actions of Ra’anana residents as they responded to a Palestinian terror attack the day before in which three people were injured. The suspected terrorist was arrested by police.

“I would like to commend the action of civilians and the security forces yesterday in Ra’anana,” Netanyahu said. “We must all be on alert at the time; we are in a determined and ongoing struggle against terrorism.”

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