Jerusalem – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged in writing that he would defeat Yisrael Beiteinu’s IDF conversion bill should Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar agree to authorize the conversions himself, sources in the rabbi’s office said Thursday evening.
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu does not plan on advancing the legislation if Rabbi Amar will approve the government’s decision regarding conversions officiated by the army.
The Knesset approved the bill to certify the validity of all conversions to Judaism conducted by the IDF by a wide majority in its preliminary reading, with Netanyahu voting in favor.
According to the rabbi’s associates, Netanyahu’s bureau chief Natan Eshel sent Rabbi Amar a letter on the matter, thus giving in to the demand that the PM commit to burying the bill in writing.
Sources in the rabbi’s office stressed that the letter does not obligate Amar to recognize the conversions following his examination, adding that a special committee he had set up to this end has yet to complete its work.
Netanyahu has already told Shas that he would defeat the bill, according to which IDF conversions would not require the Chief Rabbinate’s approval. Shas considers the bill a breach of the status quo and accuses Yisrael Beiteinu of trying to “divide the nation.”
The religious party claims the bill would create two separate conversion tracks for soldiers and civilians. “We cannot allow a situation whereby Jews walk around with second class conversion certificates,” Religious Services Minister Yakov Margi said recently.