Haredi leaders storm out of meeting with PM

Minister Aryeh Deri and MK Moshe Gafni walk out of coalition meeting when told by PM that he seeks compromise on conversion law.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Deri and Gafni
Deri and Gafni
Flash 90

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (Shas) stormed out of a meeting of coalition leaders after it became clear that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wanted to reach compromises in the coalition over the conversion law.

Netanyahu and the heads of the parties discussed the possibility of freezing the conversion law and not advancing it in the Knesset following the criticism voiced against it by the Reform movement and certain liberal religious Zionist groups within Israel.

The leaders of the haredi parties reacted angrily and left the room after the prime minister asked to that the bill be postponed for six months and for the establishment of a public committee to discuss the matter.

The haredi parties demanded that the bill be brought up for discussion before the Kneset Legislative Committee this coming Sunday, as well as to discuss the filed which was filed by Yisrael Beyteinu against the law.

The law would centralize authority over conversions under the Chief Rabbinate and ban all private conversions in Israel. Reform and Conservative conversions have never been recognized in Israel.

Netanyahu convened the coalition leaders following a meeting he held with the leaders of the pro-Israel American lobby AIPAC, who were furious at the freeze on the Western Wall outline and the promotion of the conversion law. One of the reasons stated by deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan (Jewish Home) for the law is the fear of unsupervised wildcat conversions that would attract infiltrators and foreign workers who would then get automatic Israeli citizenship. The law has no effect on conversions performed outside Israel.

Netanyahu explained to the heads of the lobby that he had received a threat from the haredi parties that if he did not respond to their demands on these issues immediately they would cause a coalition crisis and force the country into holding early elections. Netanyahu said that he preferred the stability of the government over causing a shake-up to the entire State of Israel.

In addition, Netanyahu emphasized that efforts are continuing to find a suitable solution for the non-Orthodox denominations at the Western Wall, as well as issues related to the conversion law.

The AIPAC leaders told Netanyahu that American Jewry would be prepared to compromise on the Western Wall deal, but that the conversion law in its current form would be difficult at best for American Jews denominations and organizations to accept.