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Controversial Conversion Law Would Be Frozen Under Deal With Ultra-Orthodox

(JTA) — Government sources in Israel said the ruling Likud party had reached a deal with Haredi coalition partners on the future of conversions to Judaism in Israel.

The deal entails preserving the current status quo on conversion in Israel for six months, with parties working for and against state recognition for conversions without Orthodox approval suspending their judiciary and legislative efforts for that period, the Jerusalem Post reported on Friday.

Haredi parties in Israel are promoting legislation in Israel’s Knesset, the parliament, that, if passed, would grant the Chief Rabbinate a total monopoly on conversion. It would preempt judicial intervention by stating that Israeli law does not recognize Reform and Conservative conversions done in Israel, as well as those of non-state, independent Orthodox rabbinical courts.

Meanwhile, the Reform and Masorti, or Conservative movements of progressive Judaism are seeking to obtain a ruling favorable to their goals from the High Court on a petition they filed to grant non-Orthodox converts recognition by the state.

Both in the Haredi and the progressive movements, an agreement was reached to suspend these efforts for until 2018.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Benjamin Netyanyahu is to appoint a committee to review the issue and present alternative arrangements.

The fight by progressive streams of Judaism in Israel and their allies for recognition of their conversions is part of a larger struggle for equal status in the Jewish state as the Rabbinate, which is an Orthodox body whose court system is part of the Israel judiciary, acting as family courts for Israeli Jews.

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