Israel’s Cabinet criticized Interior Minister Arye Deri on Sunday for attempting to circumvent a court ruling ordering his ministry to register non-Orthodox converts to Judaism as Jews.
Following the July 24 ruling by the High Court of Justice, the Interior Ministry began affixing stickers to newly issued identity cards, saying that information listed on them about the holders’ nationality or religion could not necessarily be verified.
Deri, who represents the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, instituted the stickers, because the ultra-Orthodox do not regard Reform and Conservative converts as Jews.
The court would not allow him to distinguish between non-Orthodox converts and those traditionally considered as Jews, so he simply raised doubts about the authenticity of the information contained on the cards.
On Sunday, the Cabinet criticized that practice and ordered Deri to work with Attorney General Yosef Harish to redesign the identity cards to comply with the court ruling.
As a compromise, Harish suggested that the cards include a statement saying that they serve as proof of a holder’s place of birth, age, sex and other personal characteristics.
But he said no specific mention should be made of entries on the card pertaining to the holder’s nationality or religious status.
Deri himself, however, told reporters after the meeting that the identity cards will state something like: “All information stated on this card can be used as evidence, apart from the details of nationality and personal status.”
If he succeeds in getting such language on the cards, the Cabinet will have replaced the temporary stickers affixed to the cards last week with a printed text stating the same reservations.
Deri’s actions were criticized by the vast majority of the Cabinet members, from the right to the left, including Ministers Zevulun Hammer and Avner Shaki, who represent the Orthodox National Religious Party.
Hammer, who serves as religious affairs minister, said that if Deri is unwilling to take responsibility for the Population Registry, it should be transferred to a more obliging Cabinet member.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.