Jerusalem – Conversion Bill Moratorium Extended Another 6 Months


    Jerusalem – The all-around moratorium on the legal actions that could change the status quo of conversions in Israel has been extended by another six months, it was revealed on Monday.

    Israel Beiteinu – whose conversion bill caused the hubbub that prompted the moratorium’s first six-month segment in July – as well as Shas agreed to not advance their legislation on the matter until July 10, and the Reform and Masorti (Conservative) movements will hold off with their High Court of Justice petitions demanding a more egalitarian stance toward non-orthodox conversions in Israel.

    In the interim, Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky and Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser, representing Jewish unity and the Israeli government, respectively, will chair a round-table discussion to include representatives of the Interior Ministry, Justice Ministry, non-orthodox streams and the Jewish Agency. That forum will set out to streamline and deal with complaints and concerns about bureaucracy that converts and potential converts could encounter in the Chief Rabbinate or other parts of Israeli administration.

    At this stage, the round-table did not include a representative from the Chief Rabbinate, nor of the State Conversion Authority.

    It was not clear if the moratorium included Israel Beiteinu’s recently proposed military conversion bill, which is a private bill.

    In July, the Prime Minister’s Office had mediated a six-month freeze on their High Court of Justice petition of the Reform movement demanding state recognition of non-Orthodox conversions conducted in Israel. In return, the announcement continued, the government would halt the legislative process on the conversion bill for that period.

    The deal was hammered out by Hauser, at the behest of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, “to find any way to preserve the unity of the Jewish people.”

    In the interim, Sharansky was to head a team including members of the non-Orthodox movements and of the government, to create the authority that would complete the legislation on the topic.

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