(photo credit: Miiam Alster)
Despite ongoing tensions between coalition partners Hatnua and Bayit Yehudi, a
veto issued by MK Meir Sheetrit of Hatnua against the so-called “Amar bill” was
withdrawn on Wednesday and the legislation then passed its preliminary reading
in the Knesset.
Hatnua vetoed the bill in retaliation for Bayit Yehudi’s
veto of the Stern bill, designed to enlarge the 150-member chief rabbi electoral
committee to 200 members and reserve 20 percent of spots on the panel for
On Tuesday night, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett announced
that he would select only women as his 10 appointees to the committee but said
that he would not lift the veto on the Stern bill.
Sheetrit said that he
was removing his veto since the Amar bill had been introduced by MK Avraham
Michaeli of Shas and that it was not fair to penalize Shas for the actions of
Stern’s office said the MK was not satisfied with Bennett’s
proposal regarding the chief rabbi electoral committee, but that it represented
at least some progress on fairer representation on the committee for women.
Until now, just one woman has been on the panel.
The Amar bill has been
promoted by Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar himself, and he has promised to
back Bayit Yehudi’s candidate for Ashkenazi chief rabbi, the recently nominated
Rabbi David Stav, in return for the party helping pass legislation to allow him
to stand for a second term.
Also on Wednesday, the Knesset House
Committee selected its five delegates for the electoral committee. They are MKs
Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism), Gila Gamliel (Likud), Aliza Lavie (Yesh
Atid), Miri Regev (Likud) and Yoni Chetboun (Bayit Yehudi).
protested that only one member of the opposition, himself, had been selected to
serve on the panel.
On Monday, Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said that
it was time to abolish the government position of chief rabbi and the
“For the free public, it doesn’t matter at all
who’s elected. We don’t have a need for a chief rabbi or the rabbinate, and the
contest isn’t between extremists and moderates but rather between streams of
Orthodoxy who are quarreling over jobs and money,” said Gal-On.
the supposedly moderate candidate is elected, the rabbis will continue to
discriminate against women and to subjugate them to Jewish laws which see them
as an acquisition of men.”
Gal-On said that instead of a state-supported
rabbinate, the money should be used to provide funds as needed by different
Jewish denominations without discrimination.
“The job of the state is to
enable freedom of religion and freedom from religion, because faith is sustained
between a man and God and his community, not between man and his state. It
[faith] should certainly not be imposed upon him,” Gal-On concluded.