JERUSALEM (Mar. 21)
A bill to amend the Law of Return to recognize as converts to Judaism only persons converted according to halacha — religious law as administered by Orthodox rabbis — was defeated by a vote of 58-50 in the Knesset today. The Liberal Party faction of Likud joined the Labor opposition in rejecting the measure which had the support of Premier Menachem Begin.
Action on the bill, which has been a source of bitter controversy for years, was pressed by the Agudat Israel Party, a member of Begin’s coalition. Although Begin promised he would do all he could to ensure its passage, Liberal Party MKs were released from party discipline and allowed to vote freely on the issue.