The Kotel: Next week the Israeli government will be forced to present its reasoning for the delay of the Kotel resolution to the Supreme Court. In light of this, over the past few days, the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) parties have been placing extreme pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu to completely annul the resolution at this coming Sunday’s government meeting. As far as we know, the Prime Minister rejects the complete annulment of the resolution and is currently negotiating with the Haredi parties in an effort to find a resolution to the political disagreement, going between language of “freezing the resolution” and “postponing its implementation”. We, together with our partners in North America (the URJ, Conservative Movement, JAFI and JFNA) are placing massive pressure on the Prime Minister’s office to avoid making a harmful decision. In any case, if such a decision should be made, we plan on continuing our efforts in the Supreme Court for the establishment of an egalitarian platform and anchoring it in proper regulations and budgets. I invite you to read an extensive article published in the “Ha’aretz” newspaper yesterday with URJ president, Rabbi Rick Jacob’s response to the possible government actions:

Conversion Law: This past Thursday we learned that a national conversion bill by the “Shas” party will be presented at the government legislation committee meeting this coming Sunday. This legislation serves as an additional version of the historic conversion law and bill proposed a few years ago by MK David Rotem z”l. It is meant to block recognition of private conversions in Israel by any stream (Reform, Conservative or Orthodox). The background to this bill is a Supreme Court resolution given last year, which legally recognized Orthodox conversions conducted outside of the national Rabbinic establishment and the significant progress in our old Supreme Court petition for recognition of our conversions for “law of return” purposes (recognition for the sake of registration at the Ministry of Interior was reached in 2002). A wide front, consisting of moderate Orthodox forces and other Jewish organizations, was established in Israel and overseas to fight this bill. We were glad to learn that after we publicized our rejection of the bill in local and international media, the “Yisrael Beitenu” party announced its strong opposition to the bill, a fact that will greatly assist us in our efforts. In response to the bill, we publicized the following statement: “World Jewry and the vast majority of Israeli public are not willing to give the Haredi establishment the authority to decide who is Jewish. Just as in the past, here too, a wide Jewish front will stand against this anti-Zionist bill and we will do everything in our power to prevent this dangerous bill from becoming law. We expect the Prime Minister and Ministers Kachlon, Lieberman and Bennett not to abandon the most basic interests of the Jewish people just so they can satisfy the uncontrollable appetite of the Haredi parties.”

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