Conversion reform passes Cabinet vote


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet approved a government regulation that will reform the conversion process.

The regulation, which echoes the controversial conversion bill that for the second time passed the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, was approved on Sunday at the weekly Cabinet meeting. It will have the force of law but can be rescinded by the Cabinet.

Only the Jewish Home party’s Uri Ariel, who serves as housing minister, voted against the regulation, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The regulation that passed the Knesset committee last week was headed for the Knesset plenum as early as this week.

Under the measure, as many as 30 courts made up of municipal rabbis would be allowed for the purpose of conversion. Currently there are 33 rabbis and four conversion courts that can perform conversions throughout Israel.

After approving the bill in March, the committee was required to vote a second time due to the addition of 38 amendments proposed by the opposition; they were all voted down by the committee.

Sponsored by Elazar Stern of the Hatnua party, the bill already passed one reading in the Knesset this summer.

Israeli media reported last month that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had withdrawn his support for the bill in order to shore up his coalition base and not upset the haredi Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties, which he might need to form an alliance in future governments.

Israel’s chief rabbis last week said they would not recognize conversions performed by municipal chief rabbis.


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