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|Monday, September 04, 2000, updated at 14:11(GMT+8)|
Barak Abolishes Religious MinistryThe Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, has announced plans to abolish the Religious Affairs Ministry as part of a programme of social reform.
The move is expected to anger religious parties, particularly the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, which has already withdrawn from Mr Barak's government in protest over his peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Correspondents say Mr Barak's plans for social change aim at greater equality between religious and non-religious Jews in matters of education and military service.
However Shas has accused Mr Barak of trying to undermine its power.
The ministry has always been headed by a religious party - either the National Religious Party, or more recently, Shas.
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