Vote on bill for burial of non-Jewish soldiers alongside Jewish comrades postponed

By
June 30, 2013 20:35

Defense Ministry asks for a week's delay to "study the bill"; IDF, Bayit Yehudi oppose the proposal.

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Soldiers lay flags on Graves on Remembrance Day

Soldiers lay flags on Graves on Remembrance Day 370. (photo credit:REUTERS)

MK Elazar Stern of the Hatnua party has drafted a bill to ensure that non-Jewish IDF soldiers, or those whose Jewish identity is unclear, will be able to be buried alongside Jews in military cemeteries if their families so wish.

Currently, non-Jewish soldiers are buried apart from their Jewish comrades in military cemeteries although they are nevertheless interred in the same section of the cemetery.

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Jewish law prohibits burial alongside non-Jews.

According to Stern’s proposed legislation, if the family of a gentile decides that they want their relative laid to rest in a military cemetery then the placement will be in the same row and alongside any other soldier.

Although the bill was scheduled to be brought before the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, it was taken off the agenda following a request by the Defense Ministry, asking for a week’s delay to “study the bill and consult with the relevant parties,” said a political source.

The Jerusalem Post understands, however, that the IDF is opposed to the suggestion.

In addition, senior members of the Bayit Yehudi faction, including Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben- Dahan, are also vehemently opposed to the bill.

Ben-Dahan is opposed both on grounds of Jewish law, as well as due to his belief that the Knesset should not rule on such matters without the involvement of the Chief Rabbinate.

Stern proposed the bill following a controversy this past Independence Day when, as is customary, the IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz planted an Israeli flag at the grave of the most recent fallen soldier.

As reported by Israel Radio, it transpired that the soldier on whose grave Gantz planted the flag, Lt.-Col. (res.) Shlomo Nitzani, was not the most recent soldier to die while on IDF service, and that another soldier, Yevgeni Tuluchko, had died after him. Since that soldier was not considered Jewish according to Halacha, the IDF designated Nitzani’s grave for the Independence Day ceremony.

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