Following a stormy debate on his proposal to amend the Law of Return, MK Bezalel Smotrich has decided to withdraw the bill and not bring it to a vote, while reserving the right to put it up for a vote at a later date.

Since 1970, the law – and its accompanying Aliyah benefits – have applied to anyone with a Jewish grandparent. One of the reasons was that the Nuremberg laws of the Nazis applied to anyone with a Jewish grandparent. MK Smotrich sought to change the law so that it would apply only to anyone with a Jewish parent. By Jewish law, only someone with a Jewish mother is considered Jewish. MK Smotrich said he wants to stop the law from applying to a grandchild of a Jew, as a step on the way to applying it only to Jews by Jewish law.

The explanatory notes attached to the bill state, “In its current format, the Law of Return, 1950, allows the grandson of a Jew to gain the status and rights of an oleh (new immigrant to Israel), even if he himself, and at times even his parents, are no longer Jews. This situation causes the exploitation of the law by many people who have severed all ties to the Jewish People and its heritage, and in practice empties the law of its original intent, which is to open the gates of the country to the Jews of the Diaspora.”