At the start of this week's cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced his objection to the Israel Beiteinu-sponsored Conversion Law, bowing to heavy pressure the Reform and Conservation movements are placing on him to take it off the agenda.
In its first reading in the Knesset the law won the support of United Torah Judaism because it explicitly does not allow Reform and Conservative entities the authority to perform conversions. Still, UTJ members voiced numerous reservations regarding the law, such as expanding the conversion authority, while saying that the defects would be rectified before the law is brought for second and third readings.
According to a statement by the Prime Minister's Office, "The Prime Minister said at the cabinet meeting that he would oppose the proposed conversion legislation... [and] efforts would be made to remove the bill through consensus, but if it is not removed, Netanyahu will ask members of the Likud and other coalition parties to oppose it."
Finance Committee Chairman MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni told Yated Ne'eman, "This whole story shows that none of those who oppose this law, including the Prime Minister, are motivated by concerns for conversion, but want to find favor in the eyes of Reform and Conservative figures."
Rabbi Gafni deplored the hypocrisy of those involved in the issue since the law expands the Chief Rabbinate's conversion authority. "How can it be that someone who constantly insists on expanding conversion possibilities is against this law? This points toward a lot of hypocrisy surrounding the entire issue. Ostensibly the proposed law would increase conversion possibilities, while in fact it takes power away from the Reform and the Conservative. The very fact that the Prime Minister and his associates oppose it points to a very different set of intentions."