Netanyahu Negotiates Deal to Block Conversion Bill

Published: July 23rd 2010
in News » Israel

Knesset in Jerusalem

On Thursday, the Israeli government reached a deal to suspend a proposed legislation that would grant the Chief Rabbinate a monopoly on Jewish conversions.


Acting according to instructions from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser arrived at an agreement with Israel Reform and Masorti (traditional) Jewish movements, convincing them to drop a petition to the High Court in exchange for a six-month freeze on enacting the law in the Knesset, Haaretz reported.


Netanyahu had apparently instructed Hauser to "find any means to maintain the unity of the Jewish nation."


During the bill’s suspension, a committee headed by Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Jewish Agency, will work with the Reform and Masorti movements to develop an alternative to current suggestions, put forward by the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, which threatens to isolate non-Orthodox Jews both at home and overseas.


According to Netanyahu, "Change in the law on conversions in Israel must be carried out through broad agreement to prevent a split within the Jewish nation."


"Unity is in the foremost interest of the State of Israel and the Jewish nation, and I intend to defend that principle with determination," he continued.


Said Mark Pelavin, director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, the cabinet's decision was "a positive development, but we must see if this time will be used to find the compromise or it's just a delay and kicking a ball down the road."

Related articles: (conversion bill, knesset, Chief Rabbinate)
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