Knesset Vote Set on Controversial Conversion Bill

Bill submitted for Monday vote, with rabbis warning it will prevent conversions being recognized in Israel and abroad.

Hezki Baruch, Ari Yashar ,

Full Knesset session
Full Knesset session
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu) submitted the controversial Conversion Bill of MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) to the Knesset on Wednesday.

The full Knesset is to vote on the bill for a second and third reading next Monday, after appeals to the bill this Monday were overruled and it was approved for voting.

However, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu withdrew his support for the law, it has become known that several senior coalition members are seeking to postpone the vote by a month.

Those coalition members told Arutz Sheva they hope that Economic Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) will initiate a counter-conversion bill to gain some time in place of the current extreme Conversion Bill, saying "Bennett should fold and stand together with the prime minister."

Netanyahu has refused to let Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) submit her proposal of the bill, demanding that Bennett in his role as Religious Services Minister do so. It has been made known to Arutz Sheva that Bennett is refusing "to sign his name" on any bill leading to a significant change in the conversion process.

Jewish Home has been opposing the law, but originally agreed to let the bill come to a first reading despite its right to veto laws on religion and state before their presentation to the Knesset. Evidently the decision not to veto was made for political considerations, in an attempt to gain support for Jewish Home's bill against freeing terrorists in exchange agreements.

The controversial Conversion Bill would remove the Chief Rabbinate's supervision over the conversion process in Israel, with proponents claiming it will "ease" the process and critics warning it will destroy valid conversion to Judaism.

The Chief Rabbis warned Netanyahu in an urgent meeting on Tuesday that they will not recognize conversions conducted under the new bill, showing how the bill in fact will only complicate the conversion process.

Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi David Lau likewise warned about the bill last month when he met with world rabbis in London, who told him that with the supervision of conversion being removed from the Chief Rabbinate, rabbis around the world will not recognize conversions taking place in Israel either.



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