Israel's government is looking to push more Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men into work (EPA)

Israeli Ultra-Orthodox men urged to work

Israel’s government is looking to take advantage of a rare political opportunity to push more Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men into work to boost the economy, a measure that could pit powerful religious leaders against politicians.

By 2065, Israel’s “haredi” community is expected to make up 32 per cent of Israel’s population, up from 12 per cent now, according to official estimates.

Only about 50 per cent of Ultra-Orthodox men work. The other half study religious texts in seminaries, and the Bank of Israel and economic leaders have warned of long-term strains on the budget if they are not integrated into the workforce.

“Raising the employment and labour productivity rates of the ultra-Orthodox population, especially men, are issues of strategic importance to per capita GDP, labour productivity, and reducing income disparities between the ultra-Orthodox and the rest of society,” The Bank of Israel told Reuters.

But for much of the last 12 years, two ultra-Orthodox parties provided support to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, effectively preventing any change.

Now no Ultra-Orthodox parties are in government, and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman is a determined secularist. Haredi men, says Lieberman, should “earn a decent living that is not based on allowances and handouts”.

He has already fired his first shot; a plan that would require both parents being employed to receive state subsidies for child daycare.

Read the article by Steven Scheer (AAP) in Perth Now.