Gov't decides to defer vote on IDF conversion bill

Netanyahu decides to defer to Shas leadership's desire for Rabbi Amar's official position on issue; Israel Beiteinu slams Shas party's dithering.

December 12, 2010 16:39
2 minute read.
Netanyahu speaks in Tel Aviv, Monday.

Netanyahu tilting head 311 GPO. (photo credit: GPO)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


The government on Sunday agreed to defer the cabinet vote on the Israel Beiteinu's proposed bill to grant the IDF Rabbinate the ability to grant conversions independent from Chief Rabbinate review until this Wednesday at the earliest.

The decision to delay the vote came as a result of an agreement between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Shas ministers Eli Yishai and Ariel Attias to avoid the possibility of the bill's tearing the coalition apart. As Shas's appeal against the Ministerial Committee for Legislation's decision to support the bill was still standing, it could seriously impede coalition support for the bill if it came to a government vote on Wednesday.

Israel Beiteinu demands gov’t back IDF conversion bill
Yosef expresses extreme discontent over IDF conversion bill

The coalition would seek to find a way to solve the impasse between Shas and Israel Beiteinu regarding the bill in a manner that respected the views and honor of the Chief Rabbinate and Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Netanyahu said after reaching the decision.

Israel Beiteinu leader Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman roundly criticized coalition partner Shas's opposition to its proposed bill to create a military conversion authority independent from the Chief Rabbinate.

"Shas's position has no relation to religion or Jewish law. It is simply an attempt to assert its own authority over the army," said Lieberman. "Is the army chief rabbi a heretic," Lieberman asked rhetorically. He continued, the [army chief rabbi] is not familiar with Judaism? Can he not sign the certificates of conversion for IDF soldiers?"

"Israel Beiteinu will not accept any compromise, no deferred vote, and no [backroom] deals. We will pass the bill on the first, second and third readings as soon as is possible," Lieberman stated forcefully.

Lieberman's Sunday remarks echoed those made by fellow Israeli Beiteinu MK David Rotem earlier in the day.  In an interview with Army Radio, Rotem announced his opposition to the creation of two separated conversion tracks to Judaism in Israel.

"Two types of conversion is not good from a legal standpoint," Rotem said during the interview. "Now they [Shas] are creating a division between civil conversions and army conversions."

He continued, "I invited those who work on the issue of conversions in the field [to testify before the Knesset]. The IDF conversion are valid and done according to halacha. They [the IDF converts] are Jews."

With two key coalition parties going head-to-head in Sunday’s government meeting over IDF conversions, Israel Beiteinu has threatened that government acquiescence in Shas’s opposition to an Israel Beiteinu- sponsored bill would constitute a violation of their coalition agreement.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
August 31, 2014
Prime minister to Channel 1: I’ll be running again in next election

By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN