Israeli court’s conversion ruling no more than attempt to influence elections, Knesset candidate argues

The Supreme Court has refused to rule on other sensitive issues in the past and should have done so now as well, says Rothman.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The timing of the Supreme Court’s decision on conversions proves that the judiciary was acting to help the Left win the upcoming elections, lawyer Simcha Rothman of the Religious Zionist Party maintains in an interview with Arutz 7 on Tuesday.

“Why render this decision a short time before the elections? This issue waited 15 years, now it’s suddenly so urgent?” Rothman asked, who prior to becoming a Knesset candidate founded Meshilut (or “sovereignty”), the Movement for Governability and Democracy, a group focused on reestablishing “the essential balance of power” between Israel’s Supreme Court and parliament.

There are left-wing parties that want to make the elections revolve around the issue of religion and state, Rothman said, pointing out that the No. 4 man on the Labor party list, Gilad Kariv, “is the one who filed the petition regarding the conversion.”

Rothman noted that the court has no trouble avoiding other “sensitive” issues when it suits it, even disregarding the quasi-constitutional Basic Laws.

“There is a Basic Law in Israel that gives … Jews the right to pray on the Temple Mount,” he said, referring to the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

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“Various organizations come and file petitions demanding the implementation of the law … but the court considers the Temple Mount a sensitive and explosive issue and says, ‘I’m not giving a ruling on the matter.’ It throws out petitioners time and time again and does not leave the case open 15 years, not even 15 seconds. They say, ‘Yes, yes, you have the right but implementation is in the hands of the government.’”

“And the identity of the Jewish people in Israel is not a sensitive thing? Conversion is not an issue at the heart of the State of Israel?” Rothman asked rhetorically.

He noted that the court also rejected appeals against the Knesset law allowing some 8,000 Jews to be expelled from Gaza and northern Samaria in 2005 and their homes destroyed, without having alternative housing set up in advance.

“We all remember how thoroughly it didn’t intervene with the Disengagement Law despite there being so many violations of human rights,” he said.

At the time, the court stated that it could not intervene in what it called a “political” decision, although the same Basic Law states that “there shall be no violation of the property of a person,” and “all persons are entitled to protection of their life, body and dignity.”

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Rothman also rejected the court’s criticism that the Knesset had dragged its feet in passing a law on the issue.

That, he said, is “a joke,” because the MKs tried to do so several times, but “their legal advisers would tell them that … it wouldn’t pass [review] in the High Court.”

The only two options the court gives the Knesset, he said, is “either enact the law I want, or I will determine what I want the law to be.”