Bezalel Smotrich
Bezalel SmotrichFlash 90

National Union MK Betzalel Smotrich (Yamina) expressed support for Interior Minister Aryeh Deri's state conversion bill shortly after MK Matan Kahane objected to the proposal.

"I support Minister Deri in his demand to enact the State Conversion Law. Conversion is a national halakhic issue concerning our very existence as a people. Therefore, it must be done in official manner by the Chief Rabbinate established by Rabbi Kook to preserve the unity of the people and the Jewishness of the State," Smotrich said.

Smotrich added, "We'll support a bill that will enshrine the official status of State conversion as instructed by most Israeli rabbis. It is possible and necessary to improve, make more accessable, and bring converts in the conversion process without throwing out the baby with the bathwater and break the State halakhic framework that preserves the unity of the people.

"We will not support proposals for conversion reform that include expropriating the supreme halakhic authority vis-à-vis conversion from the Chief Rabbinate and recognizing Reform and Conservative conversions. This is the right way to deal with assimilation and strengthen the unity of the Jewish People," Smotrich emphasized.

Earlier, Yamina MK Matan Kahane attacked the initiative and said: "What Deri's statement means is that we'll reach a total stalemate on the issue of conversions," Kahane said. "What he means is that the outline developed by Moshe Nissim - supported by some of the great rabbis of the Religious Zionist movement (such as Rabbi Haim Drukman, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Rabbi Zefania Drori, Rabbi Eliezer Valdman, Rabbi Isser Kalonski, and Rabbi Aryeh Stern) - is to be canceled.

"The State of Israel needs a State Conversion Law but it needs a law that provides a solution for the hundreds and thousands of Israeli citizens who want to become Jews, not a law that slams a door in their faces," he added. "The one being stringent regarding conversion ends up encouraging assimilation."

Yesterday, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to advance a new conversion law that would only recognize conversions in Israel approved by the Chief Rabbinate.

Deri submitted to Netanyahu a memorandum of law that would effectively block any private conversion in Israel, including haredi conversions such as those from Rabbi Karelitz's court in Bnei Brak.

In an interview with Radio Kol Hai Deri stated, "I asked Bibi to issue a memorandum of law that would only recognize official State conversions in the State of Israel. We do not have Yisrael Beyteinu, who fought against it. We also do not have the Yamina Party, at least some of whom fought against it because they wanted to take care of the Tzohar Organization. It's easier to promote today."