Haredi MKs storm out during meeting with Netanyahu amid conversion dispute

Following wide criticism from US Jewry, the PM proposed to delay the enactment of the controversial bill. Haredi MKs Deri and Gafni then stormed out of the room, accusing Netanyahu of breaking a coalition agreement.
Bennett (left), Deri, Netanyahu Photo credit: Miriam Alster, Yossi Zelinger, Flash 90/Channel 2 News

Attempting to calm the dispute with the US Jewry, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his coalition heads Friday morning to discuss the controversial conversion bill, which would grant the ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbinate full control over conversions to Judaism.

After Netanyahu proposed to delay the enactment of the bill by six months, and to set up a committee that would examine the issue, MK Aryeh Deri, the leader of the Haredi Shas party, demanded that the bill be immediately promoted in case the Supreme Court accepts the Reform Movement's petition against it.

At this point, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said such a scenario would require further discussions. In response, Deri and MK Moshe Gafni stormed angrily out of the room.

The United Torah Judaism party stated after the meeting that Netanyahu had broken an agreement with them.

Kahlon called on both sides to resume discussions. "The people of Israel have paid a heavy price in the past for the divide within the nation. We shouldn't go back to these times," he said.

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