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Sa’ar says Netanyahu being ‘extorted’ by ultra-Orthodox on Reform conversions

In this August 26, 2012, photo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, speaks to then-Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar as they arrive at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Uriel Sinai/Getty Images, Pool, File)
In this August 26, 2012, photo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, speaks to then-Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar as they arrive at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Uriel Sinai/Getty Images, Pool, File)

Gideon Sa’ar, head of the right-wing New Hope party, tells Channel 12 news that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being “extorted” by the ultra-Orthodox parties, referring to the High Court decision to recognize Reform and Conservative conversions performed in Israel.

The Haredi parties have railed against the decision and said they’ll only join a coalition that will overturn the ruling via legislation, even though those parties had earlier rejected a compromise plan that would have also okayed conversions by some relatively liberal Orthodox rabbis, prompting the High Court to intervene after 15 years of proceedings.

“The Haredi parties have forced paralysis,” Sa’ar says. “They are trying to bend the hand of the political system. Netanyahu is afraid of making decisions, he’s gripped by fear.”

Asked if the premier is being extorted by Shas and United Torah Judaism, Sa’ar says: “Absolutely. Since the most important thing for Netanyahu is to hold on to the leadership, he must give [them] anything. That’s why he didn’t make a decision on conversions.”

Sa’ar backs a compromise that would hand some recognition to “streams in the United States” and “give every community what it deserves.”

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