Netanyahu agrees to amend Law of Return in coalition deal with UTJ

A new version of the law – without the “grandchild clause” – will be brought to a vote in the Knesset by March 31.

 LIKUD LEADER BENJAMIN Netanyahu shakes hands with United Torah Judaism MK Yitzhak Goldknopf in the Knesset last week. If Netanyahu’s promise of a full budget for all haredi educational institutions is realized, the already-low incentive to provide core studies will disappear entirely. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
LIKUD LEADER BENJAMIN Netanyahu shakes hands with United Torah Judaism MK Yitzhak Goldknopf in the Knesset last week. If Netanyahu’s promise of a full budget for all haredi educational institutions is realized, the already-low incentive to provide core studies will disappear entirely.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to amend the Law of Return in coalition agreements with the Religious Zionist Party and United Torah Judaism. He previously had said he would not change the law.

A new version of the law, without the “Grandchild Clause,” will be brought to a vote in the Knesset by March 31, according to the agreements.

The clause allows people with at least one Jewish grandparent to immigrate to Israel as long as they do not practice another religion.

The sides also agreed that the text of the bill will be determined within 60 days from the date of the government’s swearing-in by a committee that has representatives from all of the coalition’s parties.

According to Section 53 of the coalition agreement with UTJ, in light of “the need to fulfill the purposes of the Law of Return and bring about the immigration of Jews to Israel,” because of “the difficulties and loopholes created by the Grandchild Clause of the Law of Return” and “the need to prevent assimilation in Israel and to prevent misuse,” the party has concluded with the government to offer a new law. The Israeli Immigration Policy Center, which promoted changing the law, welcomed the coalition agreement.

The Israeli Immigration Policy Center, which promoted changing the law, welcomed the coalition agreement.

 UTJ LEADER Yitzchak Goldknopf is setting the tone of the new government and religion and state in Israel. Will Benjamin Netanyahu give him everything?  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) UTJ LEADER Yitzchak Goldknopf is setting the tone of the new government and religion and state in Israel. Will Benjamin Netanyahu give him everything? (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

"After many months of work to assemble the coalition to amend the Law of Return, the move is now being implemented."

Israeli Immigration Policy Center

“After many months of work to assemble the coalition to amend the Law of Return, the move is now being implemented,” the center said in a statement. “The goal we see before our eyes is to end the absurd situation in which immigration to Israel creates a demographic deficit for the Jewish majority.

“The data that we revealed to the elected officials led to the fact that there is no one left who does not understand the need for an amendment of the Law of Return,” it said.

Grandchild Clause

Media reports on Monday said the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties had decided to hold off on their demand to amend the Grandchild Clause of the Law of Return, even though they said in recent weeks it must be canceled.

The Likud Party managed to convince its coalition partners to establish a committee to discuss the clause and formulate conclusions regarding it after they are in office, KAN News reported. In addition, the Likud has not agreed to include any texts that modify or cancel the clause in the coalition agreement, the report said.

Two weeks ago, Netanyahu said he would not change the Law of Return.

“It’s going to be a big debate, but I have pretty firm views,” he said in an interview with NBC News, adding that he doubts “we’ll have any changes... you don’t just come off and do these things.”