Conversion bill nearly causes coalition crisis


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli lawmakers debated a conversion reform bill sponsored by the Yisrael Beiteinu party, averting a coalition crisis for now.

In an emergency session of the Knesset Law Committee on Monday morning, members discussed the bill, which would allow municipal rabbis to handle conversions and permit only the president of the High Rabbinic Court to annul a conversion, but did not vote on advancing it.

Prior to the meeting, the Shas Party reportedly had agreed in discussions with Yisrael Beiteinu to support the bill. But the United Torah Judaism party announced Sunday that it would oppose the bill and stressed that as part of the coalition agreement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to bring matters of religion and state to them as well as Shas, the Jerusalem Post reported. Shas reportedly withdrew its support after UTJ announced its opposition.

At an emergency late-night meeting on Sunday, the parties agreed to discuss the bill at Monday’s committee meeting, but not vote on it. With the Shas approval, the bill had been expected to advance quickly in the Knesset this week, according to the Post.

The committee also agreed that the civil marriage bill will be discussed Tuesday by the Knesset.

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