In a six to five vote, the Ministerial Law Committee early Monday afternoon 3 Marcheshvan passed the controversial Giyur Bill sponsored by MK Elazar Stern. Upon leaving the room following the vote, chareidi MKs commented “this is a dark day for the State of Israel”.
Rumors points to a deal between Education Minister Shai Piron and Arab MKs that they would absent themselves from the vote to permit it to pass. It is rumored that persons close to the minister promised to intervene to prevent sanctions or worse against Arab MK Hanin Zoabi for her volatile comments supporting terror and against the State of Israel. Arutz-7 reports that the minister promised the Arab sector additional funding if the Arab MKs agree to absent themselves from the vote. Aides to the minister insist no such deals were made and the Arabs absented themselves in line with their long-standing policy not to vote in internal Jewish matters such as this one.
After the committee passed the bill Justice Minister Tzipi Livni stated “Those who did not want the bill in the cabinet will not get it in the Knesset”.
Deputy Minister of Religious Services (Bayit Yehudi) Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan spoke out forcibly against the bill, telling his colleagues the bill in its current version is not favorable to the converts.
MK Stern however has a somewhat different view, stating if one comes to Israel because one’s father is Jewish and he is told that he is not Jewish, it would be “humiliating”, using this anti-halacha approach to validate the need for his bill.
The chareidim and Bayit Yehudi are now left with the hope Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will prevent the bill from heading for a second and third vote in the Knesset plenum by enlisting the assistance of Speaker Yuli Edelstein. The speaker has the authority from preventing the bill from appearing on the agenda for a vote.
Bayit Yehudi party faction members have threatened to break from the coalition if the bill is advanced in Knesset but after the prime minister promised the dati leumi party advancement in construction in Yerushalayim, Yehuda and Shomron, the party has committed to refrain from any threats of breaking from the coalition session during the winter session. As the construction has not yet actually begun, still in various stages of planning, it remains to be seen how Bayit Yehudi will respond.
Alternatively, both the Yesh Atid and The Movement parties have threatened to break from the coalition if the Giyur Bill is not passed in Knesset. Yisrael Beitenu has also signaled the bill is a must and blocking it would represent a deal breaker. This too remains to be seen.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)