Conversion issue won't be part of coalition agreements - report

In a draft, it was agreed, among other things, that "in the matter of the Conversion Law, the current status quo on matters of conversion will not be changed."

By YANIR COZIN/MAARIV
May 23, 2019 12:39
3 minute read.
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After a month and a half of bilateral meetings between the Likud and potential coalition partners following April's election, Minister Yariv Levin, head of the party's negotiating team, met with representatives of United Torah Judaism, Shas and the Union of Right-Wing Parties. At the end of the meeting, the participants formulated a draft of the coalition agreements on issues of religion and state, in part a direct continuation of the coalition agreements after the 2015 elections - and contrary to the demands of Yisrael Beytenu and Avigdor Liberman.

It was agreed in the draft, among other things, that "in the matter of the Conversion Law, the current status quo on matters of conversion will not be changed, in accordance with the letter of then-chief rabbi Shlomo Amar, which was submitted to the coalition agreement." In the letter, which was cited as an addition to the coalition agreements of the outgoing government, Amar wrote that only those who had been authorized by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel could approve conversion. In other words, a complete rejection of Lieberman's demands on this issue.

As noted, Yisrael Beytenu demands that the conversion process in Israel be changed and adapted to Jews who have not converted to Judaism in Israel. In a post written by the head of the party's negotiating team, MK Oded Furer, he said: "We will firmly oppose a halachic state. We wish to promote the same issues that the prime minister announced in the past that he supports - adopting the conclusions of the Nissim Committee on conversion. We will be the brakes that will not allow religious coercion in the next right-wing government."

The Nissim Committee stated, among other things, that a "conversion authority" would be established, headed by a person appointed by the prime minister rather than by the Rabbinical Court, and that it would be the authority to decide who and how conversions would be made. In addition, the recommendations of the committee recognize additional streams such as the Conservative and Reform movements for registration purposes, but not for marriage purposes.

A source involved in the negotiations added that, "Everyone is waiting for the end; everyone has learned the trick. While previously the competition was the first to sign and first get what they asked for, the understanding now is that the longer you wait, the more likely you are to get your demands. "

Two weeks ago, Yisrael Beytenu submitted a bill that would ban the use of DNA tests to examine a person's Jewishness. However, the draft agreement between the Likud and the national-religious and haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties explicitly states: "Private legislation that changes the status quo on religious matters, other than what is expressly agreed upon in this agreement, will not be approved". A source in one of the haredi parties told Ma'ariv last night that, "We do not want to stick a finger in anyone's eyes. If the status quo is not changed, we will not be the ones to do it. "

Another point in the agreement between the Likud and the haredi parties is a decision not to advance the "Western Wall Plan," which also recognized the Conservative and Reform streams, and finally had to include the mixed plaza at the same entrance. All of these will not be promoted according to the agreements. In addition, as was the case in the previous government, it was agreed that a "Goodwill Dialogue Forum would be established, including representatives of the prime minister, United Torah Judaism, Shas and the Union of Right-Wing Parties."

If Yisrael Beytenu wants to influence what is happening on these issues, it will have to enter that limited forum. However, according to the agreements that are being discussed, it seems that almost all the demands of Liberman's party were pushed aside by the other parties. The issue of the draft law, according to officials present at the meeting, was not discussed at this stage.

Netanyahu and Liberman met yesterday at the Prime Minister's Office. The two discussed the demands made by the haredi parties on issues of religion and state, as well as the draft law. Channel 13 News reported that Liberman met with Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director Nadav Argaman with Netanyahu's approval, in a move that appears to coincide with Liberman's return to the defense minister's office in the Kirya.

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