FM: IDF conversion bill will come to Knesset 'as is'

Lieberman says no changes will be made to wording of bill, says that his party does not "seek war with Shas, but will not give up."

December 14, 2010 19:20
1 minute read.
Lieberman speaks to the press

Lieberman growling at podium 311 AP. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that the new IDF conversion bill will be brought to a vote in the Knesset on Wednesday, despite opposition from Shas, and he believes it will be passed.

Lieberman said the bill will be presented "as is" and that Israel Beiteinu refuses to insert any changes into the wording of the bill.

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The foreign minister added that he does not expect a political crisis to be triggered by the move, and that his party "respects Judaism and Jewish values, we are not an anti-religious party. We respect the traditions of Israel and the Chief Military Rabbi is a distinguished authority that is serious enough to be the final authority on conversion."

Lieberman stressed that Israel Beiteinu does not "seek war with Shas or seek to dismantle the coalition, but we will not give up. There is no reason to harm the dignity of soldiers that have proven their loyalty and citizenship in action. The IDF has shown that there is a true melting pot in Israel."

On Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with all sides in the conversion controversy ahead of the key vote on the issue in the Knesset.

Netanyahu, his bureau chief Natan Eshel, and coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin each conducted several meetings in an effort to bridge the gaps between Israel Beiteinu on one side and Shas and United Torah Judaism on the other.

“We owe it to these soldiers who sacrifice themselves for the state to ensure that they will have the recognized conversions that they seek,” Netanyahu told the Likud faction Monday. “We are working on a compromise but if one cannot be reached by Wednesday, we will enable the bill to pass.”

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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