'Amar bill' passes preliminary reading

Despite tensions between coalition partners, veto against "Amar bill" withdrawn as legislation passes preliminary reading.

June 6, 2013 02:11
2 minute read.
Meir Sheetrit

Meir Sheetrit. (photo credit: Miiam Alster)


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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partners Hatnua and Bayit Yehudi, a veto issued by MK Meir Sheetrit of Hatnua against the so-called “Amar bill” was withdrawn on Wednesday and the legislation then passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset.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 women.

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 Bayit Yehudi.

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).

Eichler 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 state-supported rabbinate.

“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.

“Even if 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.

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