An agreement has been reached to put a six month freeze on a controversial bill that would give Israel’s Orthodox rabbinate control over conversion to Judaism in the country.
According to a deal brokered Thursday between Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet secretary and several Israeli non-Orthodox religious movements, the bill will be withdrawn for six months while a coalition of non-Orthodox Israeli groups, led by the Jewish Agency’s chairman Natan Sharansky, submit proposals on how to re-draft the bill, Haaretz reported.
"Change in the law on conversions in Israel must be carried out through broad agreement to prevent a split within the Jewish nation," Netanyahu said, according to the paper. "Unity is in the foremost interest of the State of Israel and the Jewish nation, and I intend to defend that principle with determination."
Sharansky had led the charge against the bill along with the Jewish Federations of North America.
"We truly support this process of a dialogue table, which allows the participants time to discuss this important issue appropriately and reach a solution that protects the bonds between Israel and the Diaspora," the JFNA’s CEO Jerry Silverman said in a statement late Thursday. "We are also thrilled that Natan Sharansky will be leading the process."