Reform movement balks at Israel civil union bill


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Reform movement strongly protested the advancement of a civil union bill to the floor of the Israeli parliament.

The Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee on Tuesday authorized the bill to advance for a second and third reading in the Knesset next week.

The Union for Reform Judaism registered its strong opposition in a statement, noting particularly a provision that would withdraw from those who converted to Judaism in Israel citizenship rights now due them under the Law of Return.

"This legislation will certainly reopen one of the most divisive battles in  the Jewish community," the URJ said in a statement. "The proposed legislation will lead to a situation in which Jews-by-choice would be treated differently and denied recognition as Jews under the Law of Return, in direct contradiction of Israeli Supreme Court  rulings."

The bill originally was aimed at allowing Israelis without a religious affiliation to register a civil marriage with a special couplehood registrar. It would help about 10 percent of couples seeking a civil marriage, according to reports.

It’s not clear at what stage the provision targeting those who convert after arriving in Israel was inserted into its text. A Jerusalem Post analysis suggested that it might have been the work of groups seeking to keep foreign workers from obtaining permanent status.

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