Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has announced that he opposes the Conversion Bill sponsored by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and her Hatnua party, and that he supports the hareidi position regarding conversions, reported Amit Segal on Channel 2 Monday.
After months in which heavy pressure against the bill was brought to bear by hareidi factions, elements in the Jewish Home and the chief rabbis, Netanyahu decided to remove the bill that was sponsored by MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) from the agenda of the next government session.
Netanyahu reportedly told the heads of the coalition factions that if the law comes up for a vote as a privately sponsored bill, he will make sure it does not pass.
If the report is accurate, Netanyahu's decision could lead to a coalition crisis, since Livni has threatened in the past that she will bolt the coalition with her party if the law is not advanced.
The bill would allow the rabbi of any city to open a religious court for conversion – thus ending the Chief Rabbinate's control of the conversion mechanism. The Jewish Home demands – along with the Chief Rabbis – that only a rabbi who is recognized as being capable of acting as a dayan (religious court judge) or one who has been approved for performing conversion by the Chief Rabbinate will be able to open a beit din for conversion.
"In the face of the wave of anti-Jewish legislation, we will take action to strengthen the Jewish identity of the state of Israel,” Jewish Home Head Naftali Bennett told his faction's MKs several months ago.