Israel Beiteinu demands gov’t back IDF conversion bill

The bill, sponsored by Ilatov, MK David Rotem would grant autonomous, legitimate status to the conversions taking place in the IDF.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL, JONAH MANDEL
December 8, 2010 06:18
1 minute read.
MK Ze’ev Elkin

Ze’ev Elkin 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerzolomiski [file])

 
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After weeks of silence, Israel Beiteinu lashed out Tuesday night against what it described as efforts to delegitimize IDF-sponsored conversions, threatening that refusal to support the faction’s bill on the subject would violate coalition agreements.

Israel Beiteinu faction chairman MK Robert Ilatov fired off a letter to coalition chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) demanding coalition support for a bill that would anchor through legislation the legitimacy of IDF conversions.

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The bill, sponsored by Ilatov and MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) would grant autonomous and legitimate status to the conversions taking place in the IDF, effectively detaching the military conversion courts from the Chief Rabbinate.

“Casting doubts upon the legality of IDF conversions is a serious blow to the status quo and questions a topic that was previously part of the consensus,” wrote Ilatov. “We thus see it as a challenge to all of the agreed upon topics regarding religion and state. We will not agree for IDF conversions to become a political pressure device.”

Ilatov reminded Elkin that the subject of conversions is a key element in Israel Beiteinu’s coalition agreement with Likud, and argued that it meant that coalition discipline must be applied when Israel Beiteinu’s bill on IDF conversions comes to a vote.

Last week, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who heads the rabbinate’s conversion mechanism, threatened Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a letter that he would resign from his responsibilities over conversions in Israel, if the premier didn’t halt the bill from becoming law.

According to reports, Amar is seeking to convene a new council from within the Chief Rabbinate to help reach a decision on the halachic standing of the IDF conversions, after a previous committee to that effect dissolved at the end of October.

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Head of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, expressed, in a conversation with the party’s ministers, his extreme discontent over the possibility that the IDF conversions would be detached from the Chief Rabbinate.

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