Netanyahu working toward IDF conversion compromise

Prime minister conducts several meetings in an effort to bridge gaps between Israel Beiteinu and Shas, United Torah Judaism.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
December 14, 2010 03:50
1 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu headshot. (photo credit: Marc Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with all sides in the conversion controversy Monday ahead of a key vote on the issue in the Knesset on Wednesday, when a bill upholding IDF conversions is due for a preliminary reading.

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.

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“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.”

Israel Beiteinu called a press conference for Tuesday, in which party chairman Avigdor Lieberman is expected to vent his anger at Netanyahu and issue new threats to the coalition.

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar is expected to present a last-minute compromise proposal when he returns from abroad Wednesday.

One possible solution is to form a committee of religious court judges that would immediately begin issuing conversions under less strict criteria.

Renegade Shas MK Haim Amsalem told Channel 10 on Monday that he will once again defy his party’s mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, by voting in favor.



“Shas should have embraced the soldiers rather than make things harder for them,” he told religious affairs correspondent Avishai Ben-Haim.

“These soldiers sacrifice their lives, and only in their merit are the yeshiva students are able to learn Torah,” Amsalem said.

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