Shas: We didn't agree to conversion compromise
Official at Interior Minister Yishai's office says decision to delay vote on controversial bill by six month was not coordinated with haredi party
Roni Sofer • Ynet
Interior Minister Eli Yishai says the compromise between the Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu – according to which the Knesset vote on the conversion bill will be delayed by six months – was not coordinated with his Shas party.
"We did not agree to the compromise presented by the Prime Minister's Office and it was not coordinated with us," an official at the Shas chairman's office said Friday morning. "Our plan to present the conversion law to the Knesset at the start of the winter session, in late October, remains unchanged.
"The absence of a conversion law creates a spiritual danger to the Jewish people. It would be wrong to halt a process which has already begun."
Nir Hefetz, head of the National Information Directorate, announced Thursday night that that a compromise agreement has been reached by which the Knesset vote on the conversion bill would be delayed by six months while the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and the Masorti Movement will suspend their High Court petitions against the proposal.
During the six-month moratorium, a task force headed by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky will seek ways to pass the legislation to the satisfaction of all sides involved.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the development, saying that "changes to Israel's conversion laws must enjoy broad consensus on order to prevent a rift within the Jewish nation. Unity is a primary interest of the State of Israel and the Jewish nation, and I plan on safeguarding this principle with resolve," he said.
Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu faction, had agreed to the compromise.
Earlier this week, Netanyahu made it clear that he had no intention of letting the bill pass into a law, mainly due to pressure from Conservative and Reform Jews in the US. The premier said the bill would "create a rift among the Jewish people."
Following the prime minister's statement, Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar called on the haredi parties to quit the coalition. Amar, who took part in wording the bill, said the Reform Jews had taken advantage of the political situation to pressure Netanyahu until he capitulated.