JERUSALEM, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Sunday criticized efforts by ultra-Orthodox Jews to segregate men and women on public transportation.
In response to growing efforts by ultra-Orthodox Jewish sectors to exclude women from the public domain, Netanyahu said: "The Israeli society is a complicated mosaic of Jews and Arabs, secular and religious. We have always agreed to coexist in peace, with mutual respect between all sectors of Israeli societies."
Referring to recent reports of women being forced to the rear of some public buses, Netanyahu said: "A fringe group must not be allowed to dismantle what we share in common."
"If we want there to be segregation it would be legitimate for us to establish our own transportation company," Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger told Army Radio. Metzger said the ultra-Orthodox community has no right to impose such demands on public bus lines.
Transport Minister Yisrael Katz ordered an investigation into a Friday incident in which a Jewish woman refused to submit to the demands of religious males that she sit at the rear of the bus during a trip from Ashdod to Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Post said.
The bus driver called police after two ultra-Orthodox men blocked the entrance door to prevent the bus from leaving until the woman moved to the back of the bus. She also refused an officer's request to move to the back of the bus, and after a half-hour delay, the bus departed for Jerusalem, Yedioth Aharonoth said.