Israel's former defence minister and head of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party Avigdor Lieberman said yesterday that it was impossible to separate religion from the state in Israel.
Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Lieberman said: "When we talk about relations between religion and state, I say that religion must be separated from politics in the State of Israel. However, it is impossible to separate religion from the state."
In May, Lieberman opposed joining a government headed by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the ultra-Orthodox parties, which he called a "[Jewish law] government", Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported.
Lieberman and the ultra-Orthodox parties have been in a dispute over the military conscription bill which would force ultra-Orthodox men studying the Torah, who are currently exempt from service, to join the military.
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Lieberman yesterday criticised the pre-military preparatory programmes of the religious community, saying "they are developing into private religious militias".
Lieberman called to separate the pre-military academies from the Ministry of Education and put them under the full supervision of the defence ministry.