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Netanyahu delays conversion bill which angered liberal Jews
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Netanyahu delays conversion bill which angered liberal Jews

A bill that would enshrine Orthodox monopoly over Jewish conversions in Israel will be postponed to allow time for the thorny issue to be resolved, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Friday in an apparent attempt to calm tensions with U.S. Jewish groups.

The bill, along with a decision to scrap plans for a mixed-gender prayer area at Jerusalem’s Western Wall this week, has angered liberal American Jewish groups, which have hinted the issues could undermine their longstanding political, financial and emotional support for Israel.

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis rigorously govern Jewish practices in Israel such as weddings, divorces, burials and conversions. Their strict interpretation of religious law often puts them at odds with liberal Jews practicing their faith in Israel. Most American Jews belong to the more liberal Reform and Conservative streams and feel alienated by Israel’s ultra-Orthodox authorities, who frown on many of their rituals.

“Domestic peace among the Jewish People is important to me. It is important to me both as Prime Minister of Israel and as a son of the Jewish People,” Netanyahu said after a meeting with the heads of the coalition parties over the crisis.

Netanyahu said it was decided legislation, as well as an appeal over the issue, will be “frozen” while a team works for about six months “on finding solutions for an agreed-upon arrangement.” He said the government together with the appellants will on Sunday ask the High Court of Justice for a stay on its decision.

“I very much hope that the High Court of Justice will accede to this joint request because it will calm things down and also open a door to hope for an agreed-upon arrangement among our people,” Netanyahu said.

The bill could be revived if the court turns down the request.

 Click here to read the full article in Washington Post

Monday, July 03, 2017
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