lieberman - Emil Salman - December 14 2010
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Photo by Emil Salman
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The Yisrael Beiteinu party plans to bring its bill on military conversions for a preliminary reading in the Knesset tomorrow.

The bill, which would ratify all conversions carried out by Israel Defense Forces rabbis regardless of whether the Chief Rabbinate approves, is expected to pass easily. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he intends to support the legislation unless a compromise is reached between Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas, which steadfastly opposes it.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beiteinu ) assailed Shas yesterday for trying to undermine the bill. "This is about people's future," he said. "To politicize this matter is simply shameful."

Netanyahu told a meeting of his Likud faction yesterday that there is a chance the warring parties will reach an agreement by tomorrow, and he hopes they do. But if not, he will support the bill.

"These soldiers were converted according to halakha, and we want to ensure that their conversions are recognized," he said. "This is a small portion of the thanks we owe those who risk their lives for the state."

The bill enjoys broad support from many parties, including Yisrael Beiteinu, Likud, Labor and Kadima. Therefore, even if it is not submitted as a government-sponsored bill, it will very likely pass - a fact that explains the confidence Yisrael Beiteinu's leadership has exhibited in recent days.

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar is seeking a compromise along the lines of a committee to study the issue. But Yisrael Beiteinu made it clear that it does not intend to withdraw the legislation.

"We want the issue of IDF conversions to be anchored in law so that they will not be able to change it in the future," explained the bill's sponsor, MK David Rotem, who also chairs the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.