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Mount Meron: UTJ and Shas propose gov’t controlled committee of enquiry

CM 19/05/2021

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 Almost three weeks after the Mount Meron disaster in which 45 people perished in a mass crush at the holy site, ultra-Orthodox parties United Torah Judaism and Shas have proposed the establishment of a public committee of enquiry which would, in practice, be controlled by serving government ministers. 

Numerous calls have been made for a state committee of enquiry which are ordered by the cabinet or the Knesset State Comptroller Committee but which are independent of the government and whose members are appointed by the president of the Supreme Court. 
The government has however resisted such calls, and no committee of enquiry of any type has been established for the Meron disaster, the worst civilian catastrophe in the history of the state. 
In the proposals made by UTJ and Shas through a Knesset bill submitted by UTJ MK Yakov Asher, the committee would be comprised of seven members and the chairman would be a former head of a local authority selected by the interior minister, currently Shas chairman Arye Deri.
Of the other six members, there would be a representative of the Interior Ministry appointed by the interior minister; a representative of the Public Security Ministry who has authority over the Israel Police, currently Likud MK Amir Ohana; a representative of the Religious Services Ministry appointed by Religious Services Minister Ya’akov Avitan of the Shas Party; a representative of the Chief Rabbinate to be chosen by the chief rabbis; and two public representatives to be chose by the chairman of the committee in coordination with the rest of the members. 
The bill states that in addition to the authority the committee will enjoy under the Law for Committees of Enquiry, the new committee would be empowered “to recommend the necessary measures to ensure that such a disaster at Meron is never repeated,” including planning, construction and safety recommendations,” while at the same time “without harming the status of Meron as a holy place in accordance with the Law for the Protection of the Holy Places, and the various perspectives of Jewish law which are applicable at Meron.”
Separately, on Tuesday, Labor MK Rabbi Gilad Kariv proposed legislation that would abolish the sweeping exemptions which allow ultra-Orthodox events of over 500 people to be held without a proper license.

Kariv said his bill was necessary in the wake of the Meron disaster and the collapse earlier this week of bleachers in a hassidic synagogue in Givat Ze’ev which left two dead and almost 150 injured on Sunday.
According to Kariv, these two events shine a spotlight on the systematic failures which have allowed these events to take place without the correct licensing simply because they are religious events.
“The level of supervision and control over religious events in Israel is too low,” said Kariv. 
“The fact that there are stakeholders who are not interested in the correct supervision only proves that the flaw in the law needs to be corrected.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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