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Israel's Envoy to Germany Welcomes Action on Circumcision

Israel's ambassador to Germany welcomes plans by the German parliament to pass a resolution protecting the right to religious circumcision.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/19/2012, 5:12 AM

Preparing for circumcision
Preparing for circumcision
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Israel's ambassador to Germany welcomed on Wednesday plans by the Bundestag, the German parliament, to pass a cross-party resolution on protecting the right to religious circumcision, after a court in Cologne ruled it a criminal act.

The European Jewish Press (EJP) quoted Ambassador Yacov Hadas-Handelsman as having told the German newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung he was “confident that a solution will be found and implemented that would serve religious freedom.”

He said he believed all relevant institutions in Germany were aware of the problem, as deputies from across the political spectrum planned to pass a motion Thursday calling for a draft law by autumn to clarify the situation.

On Tuesday, German chancellor Angela Merkel told her party that Germany risked becoming a “laughing stock” over the court ruling.

Merkel warned the board of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) that Germany must restore legal protection for circumcision.

“I do not want Germany to be the only country in the world in which Jews cannot practice their rites,” Merkel said. “Otherwise we would make ourselves a laughing stock among nations.”

Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said last week the German government would take quick action to protect the right of Jews and Muslims to circumcise baby boys on religious grounds.

The court in Cologne ruled that non-medical circumcision, practiced by most Jews and Muslims, causes bodily harm and therefore is a crime.

The practice is a “serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body,” the court decided.

Muslims and Jews banded together last week to ask the German parliament to overrule the court ban on circumcision. There are approximately four million Muslims and 150,000 Jews living in Germany.