Dozens of anti-Zionist haredi protestors gathered Wednesday afternoon in Bnei Barak to protest the arrival of President Shimon Peres for his meeting with the head of the Ponevezh Yeshiva, Rabbi Aharon Shteinman, who is also considered a prominent leader of the Lithuanian denomination.
Knesset Member Moshe Gafni from United Torah Judaism joined the meeting and asked Peres to intervene in order to prevent the resignation of his party from the coalition on the backdrop of bids to pass a bill making it easier for people to convert to Judaism.
Gafni said to Peres: "Now there is a coalition crisis on the issue of conversion. We received instructions from the head of the yeshiva to resign from the coalition. Attorney Yaakov Weinrot drafted a compromise that MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) is refusing. Under these conditions, we will be forced to resign."
Gafni addressed the president entreating him to take action on the issue: "I ask that before we reach the height of the crisis and a breakdown, the president intervene and prevent a serious coalition crisis."
Peres turned to Rabbi Shteinman and asked him to prevent a rift from forming. "I ask you to help maintain the unity of the people so that we can continue to uphold the nation of Israel in all its forms and factions," Peres said. "The rabbi has wisdom and can delve into the small print and change the situation."
Anti-Zionist brochures have recently been distributed in Bnei Barak protesting the president's planned visit "to a place where Torah is learned." The protesters who arrived Wednesday to the house where the meeting took place called signs and threw stones at the house. No injuries or damage were reported.
Yoav Zitun contributed to this report