Despite Yisrael Beiteinu’s prior promise to veto down any attempt to pass the Conversion Law, the party’s leader, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman failed to show up today (Sunday) to vote on the law, and as a result, it passed. Meanwhile, the plans to expand and establish a co-ed section at the Western Wall have been frozen, a decision accepted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
MK Aryeh Deri’s (left) party pushed forth the conversion law, which passed without Lieberman’s (right) opposition Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel, Flash 90/Channel 2 News
After the Yisrael Beiteinu party announced on Friday that it was “strongly opposed” to advancing the conversion law and its plan to veto down any possibility for it to pass, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was not present to vote today (Sunday) and as a result, the law was approved. In parallel, the government also approved a freeze on the Western Wall plan, meaning that the situation in Western Wall Plaza will remain as is and any request to renew the plans will require another government decision.
Tonight, the conversion law is expected to be voted on by the heads of the coalition parties and will likely be approved there, as well. The ultra-Orthodox want the law to pass before the Israeli Supreme Court hears a petition submitted by the Reform Movement to recognize reform conversions as well. According to the law, conversions will not be allowed without the approval of the Chief Rabbinate, including those by the Orthodox Zionist, Tzohar organization. It is possible that Yisrael Beiteinu will still try to torpedo the law’s approval during the stage of appeal.
On the other hand, Lieberman stated that he did not attend the coalition leaders’ meeting because he was “fed up with the leaks from these meetings,” and that Yisrael Beiteinu intends to appeal the conversion law. “Lieberman opposed and opposes the conversion law, unlike what was published,” sources close to the minister stated.
In addition to today’s cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted the ultra-Orthodox parties position to preserve the status quo in the Western Wall plaza and declared a freeze on the “outlines of the Western Wall.” Despite Minister Yuval Steinitz’s and Lieberman’s opposing votes, the heads of the ultra-Orthodox parties demanded that the plan to allow for the establishment of a mixed area for men and women at the Western Wall be dismantled and agreed to freeze the planned outline so a government decision on the subject will be required,
The ultra-Orthodox parties’ leaders praised the decision, saying that it “reflects the will of the majority of the people who wish to preserve the sanctity and status of the Western Wall, as it has been since ancient times.” Following the decision, Netanyahu instructed Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and the Cabinet Secretary to try and formulate a new plan. Meanwhile, construction to expand the southern Westen Wall plaza will continue.