PM: Conversion bill won't pass

Law c'tee approves MK Rotem's controversial bill for first reading.

By JONAH MANDEL
July 12, 2010 13:26
3 minute read.
David Rotem.

David Rotem 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

 
X

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 analyses 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

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel Beiteinu MK David Rotem’s conversion bill would not reach the Knesset’s floor for a vote.

The prime minister made the statement in response to criticism of the measure from Kadima MK Shlomo Molla.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


RELATED:
Rotem revises conversion bill

PM backs conversion bill dialogue

Netanyahu also met with Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky on the topic, after Sharansky received assurances from Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin that the bill would not be voted on in the coming week.

Earlier on Monday, the Knesset’s Law Committee approved Rotem’s bill for a first reading. Five MKs – from Israel Beiteinu, United Torah Judaism and Shas – supported the legislation, while four from Kadima, Labor and Hadash opposed it. The three Likud committee members were absent from the heated discussion and the ensuing vote.

The bill must now pass three readings in the plenum to become law.

Kadima lawmakers have slammed the legislation as having the potential to give haredim a monopoly over conversions, and said the bill would not ease the conversion process in any way.



Attending the Law Committee meeting were Sharansky and Jerry Silverman, president of the Jewish Federations of North America, who expressed hope following the vote that “the prime minister and the Likud will not allow such a bill to pass, as it would create a significant rift between Israel and world Jewry.”

Silverman also noted thenew language in Rotem’s bill following recent modifications, according to which special conversion courts and city rabbis would be able to conduct conversions, “so long as they are properly done, after accepting Torah and mitzvot as per Halacha.”

“This is very problematic for world Jewry; we don’t need this divisiveness,” Silverman said, while at the same time stressing that “even though the bill ignores Diaspora Jewry,” their support of Israel would not be conditioned on the fate of Rotem’s legislation.

Sharansky expressed deep disappointment over the bill passing the committee.

“We cannot divide the Jewish people with legislation which many in the Jewish world view as defining them as second-class Jews,” he said. “Jews abroad are the most loyal supporters of Israel, and stand at the forefront of the fight for Israel’s image around the world.

“The proposed bill was supposed to have been discussed in detail with world Jewry,” continued Sharansky, who was appointed by Netanyahu to lead that dialogue. “I hope the prime minister will send a clear message that this proposed legislation will not move forward without proper discussion and consultation with all those who feel they may be harmed by it.”

Beyond the changes Rotem made to the bill’s draft ahead of Monday’s discussion, he also removed its third clause, which stated that the Citizenship Law would not apply to anyone who was not entitled to an oleh status prior to their entry to Israel.

Rotem reiterated to The Jerusalem Post that his bill would have no bearing on conversions taking place abroad; rather, he said, it deals with the problems regarding conversion within Israel that can be remedied by allowing city rabbis to conduct conversions.

“I am not seeking to alter the procedures of conversion to make it easier, but to expand the options for conversion, without breaking the boundaries of Halacha,” the Orthodox lawmaker said.

“The bill is a revolution that will ease the process and prevent retroactive conversion cancellations,” he added.

When asked about the understandings that such legislation would only come after a dialogue with all streams of Judaism, led by Sharansky at Netanyahu’s behest, Rotem said that he had already told Jewish leaders in the US that he wouldn’t let anything hold back his advancement of the legislation.

“I can’t put off solving the problem of hundreds of thousands of people,” he said in reference to immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are not Jews by Halacha.

The Masorti (Conservative) movement in Israel slammed the bill, which would allow only Orthodox conversions, and issued an urgent letter to President Shimon Peres on Monday afternoon asking him to act to prevent the “impending rift” between Israel and US Jewry.

Related Content

Jisr az-Zarq
April 3, 2014
Residents of Jisr az-Zarqa beckon Israel Trail hikers to enjoy their town

By SHARON UDASIN