Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

10 Shevat 5759 - Jan. 27, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Religious Councils Law Passed on Tuesday

by Eliezer Rauchberger and M. Plaut

By a very narrow vote of 50 to 49, the Religious Councils Law, designed to prevent Reform and Conservative from joining, was passed by the Knesset on Tuesday. Passage of this law is certainly the most significant achievement in religious legislation during the 14th Knesset.

Voting on the Religious Councils Law designed to prevent Reform from participating the country's Religious Councils began at 10 Tuesday morning, and not on Monday, because primaries for the chairman of the Likud were held on Monday, and it is forbidden to conduct votes in the Knesset on such a day.

This past Monday, the Knesset began deliberating on Religious Councils Law in its second and third reading. This law in its current form is designed to prevent the inclusion of the Reform and Conservative delegates in the religious councils. Leftist representatives presented some two thousand reservations to the law, in an attempt to delay passage.

Before the deliberations the proposed law was presented to the plenum by the chairman of the Constitution Committee, Chanan Porat (Mafdal) who said that the law is important to maintain the separation of opposites. He said that he had no objection to providing religious services for Reform and Conservative separately. The issue is including them within the regular Jewish framework.

The heads of the chareidi and religious factions in the Knesset, as well as the heads of the coalition, made extensive efforts during the past few days to secure a majority for the passage of the law. On Monday, and even Tuesday morning, they continued these efforts, with the hope that the majority would be secured and the law passed.

The members of the chareidi and religious parties made extensive efforts in the Knesset to persuade its members to support the law, or at least to be absent during the voting. Many attempts were made to persuade the Arab MK's to help approve the law.

The MK's of UTJ said that the Prime Minister is obligated to secure a majority for the proposed law, because he promised to pass it.

Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz said that if the Knesset plenum approves the law in the second and third readings, the Finance Committee, which he heads, will immediately begin to vote on the Arrangements Laws and the Budget Law, with the aim of bringing them this week to final passage.

The chareidi MK's made it clear that if the Religious Councils Law is not passed, they won't support the Budget Law or the Arrangements law.

The chairman of the Labor party, MK Eli Goldschmidt turned to the chairman of Likud, MK Meir Shetreet, and proposed a deal: Likud won't support the Religious Councils Law and will cause it to fail, and in exchange Labor and the other opposition parties would help pass the budget. MK Shetreet rejected the proposal.

If the Religious Councils Law is approved, the Knesset will begin deliberating on the Arrangements Law and the Budgets Law, in their third reading, Wednesday morning, and the voting will take place Thursday night.

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