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Conversion Reform Passes Israeli Cabinet Vote

Israel’s Cabinet approved a government regulation that will reform the conversion process.

The regulation approved on Sunday at the regular weekly Cabinet meeting will have the force of law. It can, however, be rescinded by the Cabinet as well.

Only one government minister, the Jewish Home party’s Uri Ariel, who serves as housing minister, voted against the regulation, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The regulation echoes the controversial conversion bill that for the second time passed the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee last week and was headed for the Knesset plenum as early as this week.

After approving the bill in March, the committee was required to vote a second time following the addition of 38 amendments proposed by the opposition, which all were voted down by the committee. The bill, which was sponsored by Elazar Stern of the Hatnua party, already passed one reading in the Knesset this summer.

Under the measure, as many as 30 courts made up of municipal rabbis would be allowed for the purpose of conversion. Currently there are 33 rabbis and four conversion courts that can perform conversions throughout Israel.

Israeli media reported last month that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had withdrawn his support for the bill in order to shore up his coalition base and not upset the haredi Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties, who he might need to form an alliance in future governments.

Israel’s chief rabbis last week said they would not recognize conversions performed by municipal chief rabbis.

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