Netanyahu picks new National Security Council head
Conversion Bill legislation shelved for 6 months amid Jewish world crisisAfter an intense week in the Jewish world, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the representatives from the Conservative and Reform Jewish movements have decided that the Conversion Bill legislation will be halted for six months. During this time period, a committee will examine the conversion issue and make recommendations.
At the end of a Friday meeting with the heads of the coalition political parties regarding the crisis surrounding the Western Wall agreement and the controversial Conversion Bill, the Israeli government and the representatives from the Conservative and Reform Jewish movements agreed to ask the Supreme Court to delay any ruling regarding on the conversion issue for six months. During this time period, Netanyahu will appoint a committee that will work to compile recommendations on how to resolve the crisis.
It was also decided that Netanyahu will ensure that no Knesset legislation regarding conversion be advanced until the committee has made its recommendations. In addition, it was clarified that if the Supreme Court denies the request, the government will act in accordance with the coalition agreements that state that all changes regarding religion and state need to be unanimously agreed upon by all the coalition parties.
“Domestic peace among the Jewish People is important to me,” Netanyahu said after the meeting as he departed for Germany, according to the Prime Minister’s Office. “It is important to me both as Prime Minister of Israel and as a son of the Jewish People. Therefore, today I convened the heads of the coalition parties.
Netanyahu continued: “Together we reached the following conclusion: In effect, the appellants and the Government of Israel agree together to freeze all proceedings, to freeze the appeal to the High Court of Justice on the conversion issue, to freeze Government and Knesset legislation on the conversion issue. This will also, of course, allow me to establish a team that will work for approximately six months on finding solutions for an agreed-upon arrangement on the conversion issue.”
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the head of the Reform Movement in Israel, welcomed the decision: “The prime minister understands that a limit must be placed on aggressive behavior against the Diaspora Jews and the non-Orthodox movements and we welcome that the government has rescinded its decision and returned to a dialogue regarding the conversion issue. We will make sure that the Haredi institution in Israel will not receive a monopoly on the conversion topic and if needed, we won’t hesitate to return to court.”
MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), however, harshly criticized the decision, saying that “there will never be any litigation with the Reform Jews.” As JOL reported earlier, the representatives from the Haredi political parties stormed out of the meeting.
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