JERUSALEM (Jul. 18)
The National Religious Party’s Knesset faction decided at a stormy meeting last night not to force a fight with the Labor Party over the dismissal of Deputy Education Minister Avner Sciaky from Premier Meir’s Cabinet. Sciaky was ousted Sunday for violating coalition discipline. He was the only NRP Knesset member who failed to abstain in last Wednesday’s Knesset vote on the halachic conversion bill which the government opposed.
The NRP members called on Sciaky to remain in the party. Dr. Sciaky is reported to be considering a break with the NRP to form a religious party of his own, a move he has made twice before in his career without success. Yigal Allon, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Education who was Sciaky’s immediate superior and a personal friend, read a formal announcement of Sciaky’s dismissal in the Knesset yesterday. Allon is known to have tried to prevent Sciaky’s ouster.
The NRP’s decision last night to drop the issue was opposed by the party’s executive chairman, Yitzhak Raphael. Sciaky has reportedly received numerous messages of encouragement and support from Orthodox Jews in Israel and abroad. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, a halachic (religious law) authority in New York, praised him for “sanctifying God’s name” when he voted for the Agudat Israel measure that would have amended Israel’s Law of Return to make halachic conversions mandatory for prospective immigrants.