The Knesset’s efforts to fight a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
(PACE ) resolution to ban ritual circumcision bore fruit this week, when the PACE
Presidium decided to put an Israeli counter-resolution on its agenda.
expect Europe to change its approach to the ritual circumcision ban and other
issues related to freedom of religion and conscience,” MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud
Beytenu), who submitted the resolution with 102 signatures from PACE MP s
collected by MKs in recent months, said Tuesday.
“Intervention in matters
of Judaism is not legitimate. I believe that the PACE Presidium’s decision will
eventually lead to the decision [banning circumcision] to be reversed and will
create a new atmosphere in Europe,” Rivlin added.
The resolution will be
brought to the PACE Bureau, a broader forum than the Presidium, on January 27,
which is also International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Bureau will vote on
whether or not to bring the resolution to the PACE Plenum in April.
Knesset’s draft resolution reads: “The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe, in full respect of agesold faiths and the basic right of freedom of
religion, and reiterating its longstanding advocacy of religious tolerance
declares hereby that the circumcision of male children, in contrast to female
genital mutilation, is a religious rite, performed for thousands of years. The
Parliamentary Assembly recognizes that male circumcision is a basic and vital
tenet of Judaism and Islam, and an important tradition in a number of Christian
“The Parliamentary Assembly notes that claims that
circumcision harms the health and body of young boys do not rest on scientific
As demonstrated in an official paper published by the American
Academy of Pediatrics in August 2012, there are health benefits of newborn male
“Therefore, the Parliamentary Assembly declares that male
circumcision does not present a risk to the physical and mental health of male
children and concurs with their right to be protected against the violation of
their physical and mental integrity,” the resolution concludes.
PACE Bureau decides to move the resolution to the plenum, it will choose which
committee will work on it.
Knesset Diplomatic Adviser Oded Ben-Hur says
the Culture Committee is preferable, because the resolution “has to do with
tradition and culture in a broader sense.”
resolution, proposed by German MP Marlene Ruprecht and drafted in the
Public Health Subcommittee, protects children’s rights to their bodies,
which calls to restrict male circumcision for children, grouping it with
female circumcision, tattoos and body piercing for those under 18.
The initiative is non-binding, but PACE
votes are taken seriously by member states.
At the time, Ruprecht said
“The text adopted by the parliamentarians in a vote does not intend to
stigmatize any religious community or its practices…It is the Council of
Europe’s mandate to promote the respect for human rights, including children’s
rights, on an equal footing with the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and
However, the Knesset saw the resolution as possibly leading
to a ban on the Jewish tradition in some European countries, and sprung to
action under Ben-Hur’s guidance.
The Knesset sought 80 signatures from
PACE members for its resolution, but got 102, from Azerbaijan to the east and
France on the West, with some from foreign lawmakers visiting Israel and others
via delegations to Europe.
Ruprecht’s anti-circumcision resolution passed
with only 77 votes.