Haredi parties may be left scrambling to change chauvinist party policies in the near future, as the Ministerial Committee for Legislation meets Sunday to discuss a bill barring parties that ban women from their lists of candidates.
The bill, proposed by MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Camp), would ban any party that refuses to allow women to run for office. While not explicitly named, the two parties most bound to be affected are the haredi Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) parties.
If ratified, the bill would amend the Basic Law: Knesset to read that "a list of candidates for which there is no representation of both sexes will be considered as a list that denies the existence of Israel as a democratic state."
"The proportion of women in Israeli society is 51%," the explanatory note to the bill reads. "Nevertheless, there are lists for the Knesset that exclude women on their lists, so the lists of candidates submitted to the Central Elections Commission does not have even one woman."
"The purpose of this bill is to prevent the participation of the lists of candidates that do not have women in general."
Haredi parties have faced more and more scrutiny for excluding women with each election, and reached new heights during this year's campaign when a group of haredi women left to form their own party, B'Zhutan.
While B'Zhutan failed to garner more than a few thousand votes during the 20th Knesset elections, their inclusion sparked heated debates over the appropriateness of haredi parties refusing to allow female candidates – especially after party members faced threats from within the haredi community.
In January, a poll revealed that the majority of Israelis – including most religious Israelis and a sizable portion of the haredi community – would, in fact, only vote for a party which included both sexes.