The ministerial legislation committee on Sunday decided to order the coalition members to support a bill submitted by MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) which revokes official Reform participation in state-run ritual baths in Israel. The Knesset’s first reading of the bill will likely be conducted this week.

 Only three ministers participated in the committee’s session: Yariv Levin (Likud) who presided, David Azoulai (Shas), and Yakov Litzman (UTJ). The rest of the committee’s ministers, including most notably, Justice Minsiter Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) who is the committee’s permanent chairperson, were absent. It has been reported that many ministers as well as a large number of coalition MKs are opposed to the bill. In fact, Minister Levin had told his party that he was planning to block the bill in committee. But on Sunday morning it was decided that the bill would be passed by the ministerial committee and then be amended based on negotiations between the different government factions.

The Gafni bill is intended to bypass a Supreme Court ruling that allowed Reform and Conservative converts to dip in state run mikvahs under the auspices of Reform and Conservative conversion courts.

According to Ha’aretz, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit who was in attendance at the committee meeting suggested he had reservations regarding the proposed bill. The committee debate was halted at that point and Mandelblit and Levin consulted in Prime Minister Netanyahu who approved going ahead with the bill in preparation for the next phase.

Reprinted from Jewish Press.  Author David Israel