Israel Cabinet Settles Issue of “jewish” Identity; Adopts Definition

The Israel Cabinet adopted last night two amendments to the new identity cards issued recently by the Ministry of Interior and which have created dissension within the government.

The Cabinet vote yesterday backed the Ministry of Interior’s decision that any applicant for a card who declares himself a Jew shall be so identified and, provided he does not profess any other religion, will be considered of the Jewish faith. Children will be considered of the Jewish faith if both their parents declare themselves Jews.

The battle within the Cabinet found United Religious Party leader Moshe Shapira, the Minister for Religions, lined up against the left-wing Socialists led by Interior Minister Israel Bar Yehuda. Yesterday’s compromise was seen as only temporary in the issue of “who is a Jew” on which the left takes the position that anyone who says he is, is.

Neither civil nor religious courts are required to accept the statement on the identity card as proof of Jewishness. Religious leaders argue that under the latest decision the matter of mixed marriages will be further confused, as will the situation resulting from the fact that members of some local Christian sects identify themselves as Jews, though of a different religious faith.

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