The Religious Zionism, Shas, and United Torah Judaism parties are demanding in their coalition negotiations with Likud chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu that the Law of Return be modified to prevent non-halachic Jews from using it to immigrate to Israel.
The issue surrounds the so-called 'grandfather clause,' which allows anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent, no matter which, to move to Israel and be granted immediate Israeli citizenship.
According to halachah (Jewish law), a person is only considered Jewish if they have a Jewish mother or if they undergo the conversion process. The 'grandfather clause' allows people who are non-Jews according to halachah to take advantage of the Law of Return, a situation which the haredi parties and the Orthodox Religious Zionism party wish to put a stop to.
A Likud official told Channel 13 News that this is a demand that could incite the wrath of the Jewish communities in the Diaspora, in particular in the United States and the countries of the former Soviet Union, where many potential immigrants have no connection whatsoever with Judaism other than a single Jewish grandparent. If the clause is removed they would have to forego the automatic citizenship and financial benefits given to those who immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, a law that was passed with the intention of providing a safe refuge for any Jew in the world, a response to the world's treatment of Jews during the Second World War when virtually every country shut its borders to desperate Jews fleeing persecution.
Israel's religious parties are also demanding the passage of the Override Clause which would allow the Knesset to re-legislate laws struck down by the Supreme Court.
The United Torah Judaism party has several key demands in the area of religion and state, including the passage of a new Draft Law which will account for haredi sensibilities; the cancellation of many reforms passed by the previous government; and the passage of a conversion law which will ensure that the final authority on the issue will remain with the Chief Rabbinate.