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Jerusalem — “The new law will be formulated in the coming weeks and help the struggle against the shameful and violent phenomena of cursing and spitting at women,” Livni wrote. “It will be another step toward equality between men and women in Israel in 2013.”
But the legislation could also heighten militancy in an ultra-Orthodox community whose state welfare benefits and military service exemptions are under threat by the new government Netanyahu formed in March.
Fears of vandalism by religious modesty squads have led advertisers in Jerusalem, a holy city with a large Jewish religious community, to avoid posting images of women on buses and billboards, or at least toning down their clothing.
Women who insist on sitting in the front of buses in Jerusalem have been subjected at times to verbal and sometimes physical assault.
Jerusalem’s Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites, and a bastion of ultra-Orthodox ritual practice, has also been at the forefront of a challenge championed by women.
“Women of the Wall” - Jewish activists seeking equal rights at the holy place where men and women pray in separate sections - have gathered there monthly for worship sessions, donning prayer shawls in defiance of Orthodox tradition.
Israeli police have detained the women in the past for wearing the “talit”. But police say they will not intervene at the next gathering, on Friday, after a judge ruled the women were breaking no law.