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Israel creates taskforce to fight polygamy in Arab communities

The Israeli government approved on Sunday a proposal to fight polygamy in the Arab-Israeli communities, a practice which is widely spread among Bedouin men in the Negev, Moheet.com reported.

In June last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to prepare the proposal.

"This is an important process," Netanyahu said during the cabinet's meeting on Sunday. "We are enforcing the laws against illegal building and enforcing the laws against polygamy is also critical."

Two weeks ago, Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit called for authorities to increase enforcement of the laws concerning polygamy.

The government has appointed a taskforce consisting of Shaked, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Labour and Welfare Minister Haim Katz, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel.

Each member of the committee will work in their respected ministries to implement this decision; the education minister will include the topic in the school syllabus and work minister will work to encourage women to integrate in the workforce.

"I believe that this multi-system solution, which includes among other things education and awareness programmes, as well as making the punishment for polygamy more severe, will be enough to help us deal correctly with this issue. I hope we will soon reap the fruits of our labour," Shaked said.

According to figures presented in the cabinet proposal, a third of Bedouin men in Israel are thought to be married to more than one woman with most choosing wives from the West Bank or Gaza Strip.

A recent report, released by Channel 10, has claimed that a number of Israeli rabbis affiliated with the Chief Rabbinate allowed some Orthodox Jewish men to take second wives.

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