Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon and Hatnua MK Elazar Stern have reached an agreement regarding the burial of fallen soldiers of Jewish descent but who are nevertheless not Jewish according to Jewish law.

Stern had introduced a law whereby fallen soldiers of Jewish descent would be buried directly alongside fallen Jewish soldiers, something that is generally prohibited by Jewish law.

There are approximately 330,000 citizens from the former Soviet Union who immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return, which requires a person to have one Jewish grandparent. However, according to Halacha, a person is only Jewish if he is born to a Jewish mother.

Fallen soldiers from this sector of the population have until now been buried in the same section of military cemeteries but not in the same plot as their fallen Jewish comrades.

Fallen soldiers from non-Jewish communities, such as Druze, Beduin and Christian soldiers, are generally buried in cemeteries belonging to their community at the request of their families.

Deputy Minister for Religious Services Eli Ben-Dahan and other religious factions in the Knesset opposed Stern’s bill, but a compromise has been worked out with the army in which fallen soldiers of Jewish descent will be buried in the same plot within military cemeteries although not in the same row.

Stern withdrew his bill following the agreement.

“I welcome the decision of the minister of defense and his support on the matter,” said Stern following the agreement.

“An important and just correction has been made to a problem that has existed for many years and I’m happy that this has been done without the need for legislation since the purpose of the bill was always to bring about a more respectful and uniting situation.”

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