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‘who is a Jew’ Law to Be Brought Before the Knesset

The controversial “Who is a Jew” law will be brought before the Knesset, probably next month. The executive committee of the Labor-Likud unity government discussed the matter today and agreed that Premier Shimon Peres and Deputy Premier Yitzhak Shamir will decide the timing. They are expected to announce it during Chanukah which begins December 19.

The matter was raised by several Knesset members of the National Religious Party, the new religious party Morasha, Likud and Tehiya. It faces powerful opposition, however. It was soundly defeated the last time it was brought to the Knesset during the Likud-led regime, despite the strong personal backing of then Premier Menachem Begin.

The measure, long demanded by the religious parties and the Orthodox rabbinate, would amend Israel’s law of Return to exclude from automatic citizenship anyconvert to Judaism who was converted by a non-Orthodox rabbi. The bill has been denounced by the Reform and Conservative branches of Judaism in Israel and the U.S.

MK Shulamit Aloni of the Civil Rights Movement (CRM) plans a counter-attack. She said she would submit a bill to the Knesset broadening the Law of Return so that any person with one Jewish parent who identifies as a Jew would be admitted as an immigrant to Israel.

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