The Sephardic religious Shas Party has formally informed Israel’s High Court of Justice that its regulations do not prevent women from becoming members eligible to run for public office.
The statement came following a petition filed by haredi activist for female political representation Ruth Colian in 2016 through the Rackman Center women’s rights organization, which argued that Shas refers to candidates in the masculine throughout its party regulations and directs women towards the “Women of Shas” sister organization, which supports the political entity but does not produce candidates.
Shas responded that while the Agudat Yisrael ultra-Orthodox party specifically excludes women, Shas has never expressly done so, and that membership to “Women of Shas” does not preclude membership in the primary party.
The announcement does not obligate Shas to appoint any female candidates to its electoral lists, but is believed to open the door to the possibility.
In its decision on Monday, the court found that using the masculine form in Hebrew is not inherently discriminatory, as set forth in the 1981 Law for Interpretation, and that “Shas regulations do not discriminate between a man and a woman.”