A Palestinian protester stands next to an Israeli counter-protest during a demonstration in Los Angeles.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s authority handling conversions to Judaism rejects Palestinian applicants without review because of their ethnic origin, its head said.
Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, director of the Israeli government’s Conversion Authority, spoke about his organization’s handling of requests by Palestinians to convert on Tuesday during a discussion on conversions at the State Control Committee of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, the news site NRG reported.
To initiate an officially recognized conversion to Judaism in Israel, foreigners need to apply to the special cases panel of the Conversion Authority.
“The threshold requirements” to be considered by the special cases panel, he said, “are that applicants be sincere and that they are not foreign workers; infiltrators; Palestinian or illegally in the country.” In 2014, he added, the special cases committee received 400 applications. “Half of the applicants were accepted, the rest were rejected as foreign workers, infiltrators, illegal stayers and Palestinians,” he said.
Conversions to Judaism by Palestinians are rare in Israel.
Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which is the legal basis for the country’s basic laws - a set often referred to the equivalent of Israel’s constitution - ensures “absolute social and political equality to all its citizens regardless of faith, race and gender.”
The Israeli government fears that Palestinian attempts to convert to Judaism would be a covert form of realizing "the right of return," which is demanded by Arabs who were forced to flee or fled their former homes and lands in pre-state Israel just before the state's founding.