Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Katz: Expand settlements
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman met Monday with heads of religious parties in an effort to settle their various differences in a prelude to a joint coalition led by the Likud.
The party leaders, who met for one hour, said upon emerging that the meeting had been helpful and that "agreements can be reached", even on sensitive subjects.
Civil marriage, religion and state, and a possible alteration of the system of government were issues of priority discussed in the meeting, and the representatives also spoke about the settlements and the Iranian threat.
On the issue of civil marriage a compromise offered by Shas would allow non-Jewish couples to wed in Israel. Lieberman accepted the proposal and, according to a participant in the meeting, said he was pro-halacha as long as it is not interpreted in an extreme way that discriminates against whole sectors of the population.
Ultra-Orthodox MKs said in response that a proper court would have to be appointed to handle such cases, and stressed that they would not agree to officially legitimize the marriage of Jews to non-Jews.
Regarding Lieberman's demand to ease the conversion process, the religious party leaders said they would agree to the easing of "bureaucratic restrictions", but nothing more.
The leaders also discussed the alteration of Israel's system of government and agreed that a stable government would have to be formed.
National Union Chairman Yaakov Katz said he planned to support an increase in the Knesset's election threshold and to lead the formation of a rightist-religious bloc. Participants said Lieberman expressed no opposition to these ideas.
Katz added that Israel must expand settlements, but reports say Lieberman warned him to refrain from developing the subject as it may cause a media flare-up. He added that rightist governments have historically evacuated settlements, as in the case of Amona, Sinai, and Gush Katif.