January 10, 2011
Netanyahu freezes civil conversion bill
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has extended a moratorium on a civil conversion bill for another six months.
The bill proposed last year by Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party allows municipal rabbis to handle conversions—few may do so now—and permits only the president of the High Rabbinic Court to annul a conversion. It passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset last summer.
The second moratorium will expire on July 10. The first had expired on Dec. 31.
Under the moratorium, Yisrael Beiteinu and the Shas parties agreed not to continue to push the legislation through, and the Reform, or Progressive, and Masorti, or Conservative, movements in Israel agreed not to file petitions with the Supreme Court calling for a framework for non-Orthodox conversions in Israel.
Also Monday, Netanyahu appointed Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky to bring the parties together to discuss the issue.