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Minister Says Nrp Should Quit Cabinet if Court Move on ‘nationality’ Issue Accepted

The National Religious Party (NRP) should quit the coalition Government if the Cabinet accepts a Supreme Court recommendation that reference to “nationality” should be deleted from Israel’s population register, Dr. Josef Burg, a member of the religious bloc and Social Welfare Minister, said in a radio interview. The Supreme Court made that recommendation Thursday in declining to rule on the case of Lt. Comdr. Benjamin Shalip, who is suing to have his children registered as Jews by nationality and as having no religion. Their mother is not Jewish and professes no religion. The Interior Ministry had rejected Lt. Comdr. Shalip’s application, contending that in Israeli law there was no distinction between Jewish nationality and Jewish religion.

Dr. Burg said it would be a paradox if the question of “nationality” which is used in Israel, as in Eastern Europe, to describe ethnic origin rather than citizenship, were to be solved along the lines of the Supreme Court’s proposal. It would align Israel with most western countries, where nationality and citizenship are equated in law. Dr. Burg declared that the Jewish religion was inseparable from Jewish nationality and that any ruling to the contrary would diverge from Jewish religious law. It was not known, however, whether Dr. Burg’s comments represented the official stand his party would take when the issue is taken up at a Cabinet meeting. There had been hints that the religious party would not oppose the suggested law change.

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