Cabinet approves closing Religious Affairs Ministry

Over the years, the ministry has been allocating resources based on "partisan or ideological" interests and transferring its services will ensure that decisions will be made on the basis of professional criteria, according to Beilin.

Barak heralded the decision as "a first and important step in the social-civil reform" that he announced last month. In a statement, he told the ministers that responsibilities would be transferred "while preserving the rights of [ministry] employees."

Following the cabinet vote, Beilin said disbanding the ministry only requires an official statement by Barak to the Knesset. He added that he would like to dissolve the local religious councils as well, but that such a move is premature, because it necessitates a Knesset vote and the coalition does not have a majority.