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Ultra-Orthodox to boycott Knesset committee because its chair is a Reform rabbi

As Constitution, Law and Justice Committee formed, Haredi lawmakers say they won’t send representatives, in protest of Gilad Kariv’s religious affiliation

Rabbi Gilad Kariv at a Labor party meeting in Tel Aviv on March 24, 2021, a day after elections for the 24th Knesset. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Rabbi Gilad Kariv at a Labor party meeting in Tel Aviv on March 24, 2021, a day after elections for the 24th Knesset. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The Knesset plenum on Monday approved the formation of the parliament’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, led by Labor MK Gilad Kariv, with 60 MKs supporting the motion and 52 opposing.

Kariv is the first Reform rabbi to serve in Israel’s parliament, a fact that has drawn intense criticism from ultra-Orthodox lawmakers in the opposition. Haredi leaders have said they will boycott the new committee — a powerful panel tasked with redrafting and pushing through key legislation — and will not attach representatives to it.

“We can’t be part of such an injustice,” said United Torah Judaism’s Uri Maklev. “The intended chairman represents the Reform movement, which is trying to destroy the Jewish people with malicious intent.”

The ultra-Orthodox parties have repeatedly vowed to shun Kariv, who was elected into parliament in March.

In February, ahead of the Knesset elections, representatives from Shas, United Torah Judaism and the Religious Zionist party told Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language sister site, that Kariv follows a distorted religion that seeks to destroy the foundations of Judaism. They said cooperation with Kariv, who is the director of the Israeli Reform Movement, is forbidden and that any contact with him is dangerous.

At the time, Kariv said that he recognized that there would be lawmakers in the Knesset who will refuse to work with him.

UTJ MK Yaakov Litzman (L) together with UTJ MK Moshe Gafni (2R) and Shas head Aryeh Deri (R) during a press statement at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, June 8, 2021.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“I believe that most Israelis from all communities and circles are interested in a different reality — an inclusive and tolerant one,” he said.

“I do not intend to boycott others,” he said.

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