The Religious Services Ministry will create over the next two years 50 new state-paid local rabbi positions over the next two years, having secured agreement from the Treasury to fund them.

Religious Services Minister David Azoulai of Shas and ministry director Oded Flus gave notice of the new positions at a hearing of the Knesset Finance Committee on Wednesday.

During the hearing Azoulai noted that state-paid posts of neighborhood and town rabbis have not been filled in recent years and that although funds were theoretically designated by the Finance Ministry for these positions, that money has returned to the Treasury since many of these posts have been unfilled.

One of the main reasons new appointments have not been made to these positions is due to a petition to the High Court of Justice by the progressive Jewish denominations which argues that the exclusion from consideration for such posts of non-Orthodox rabbis is discriminatory.

Although the ministry now appears willing to start making such appointments once again it is unclear how it will overcome this legal obstacle.