JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – The following is a professional English translation of the full text of the newly-proposed legislation introduced by Knesset Members Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Asher.
Internal number: 2198904
The 25th Knesset
The Initiators: Members of the Knesset Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Asher
Proposed Penal Law: Amendment – Prohibition of Solicitation for Religious Conversion – 2023
Amendment of clause 174A
1. In the Penal Law, 1977 (hereinafter: the Principle Law), in clause 174A-
(1) In the footnote, in the beginning will be added “solicitation or”
(2) What is written there will be marked “(B)” and before it will come:
“(a) someone who solicits a person, directly, digitally, by mail, or online in order to convert his religion, the punishment – one year imprisonment; and if the person was a minor, the punishment – two years imprisonment.”
Amendment of clause 368
2. In clause 368 of the Principle Law –
(1) in sub-clause (a), in place of “6 months imprisonment” will come “two years imprisonment”;
(2) sub-clause (b) – cancelled
The Penal Law, 1977 (hereinafter – The Law) determines a number of offenses regarding solicitation to convert religion which are safeguarded in clauses 174A, 174B and 368.
Recently, the attempts of missionary groups, mainly Christians, to solicit conversion of religion have increased.
At times these attempts do not involve monetary promises or material gains and are therefore not illegal according to the current law, but the many negative repercussions, including psychological damages, warrant the intervention of the legislature.
This is particularly in light of the fact that most of the attempts to bring people to convert their religion target the weaker classes who, due to their social-economic standing, are more easily open to persuasion attempts such as these.
Therefore, it is proposed that alongside the prohibition of giving favors as an incentive to convert religion, also prohibited will be the act of solicitation to convert religion, when it is done directly to a person.
It is proposed to distinguish between a situation where the person being solicited is an adult – in which case the maximum penalty proposed is one year imprisonment – and a situation where the person being solicited is a minor in which case the maximum penalty proposed is two years imprisonment; and therefore it is also proposed to cancel clause 368B of the law which deals with solicitation of a minor to convert his religion.
Also proposed is to make stricter the punishment for someone who holds a ceremony of religious conversion of a minor, and make it two years imprisonment, instead of 6 months, as stated presently in clause 368A of the law.
A similar proposed amendment of the law was placed before the 24th Knesset by MK Moshe Gafni and a group of MK’s (P/24/1928).
The proposed law is identical to P/24/1928 and so was not re-checked by the legal department of the Knesset.
Submitted to the Chairman of the Knesset and the Deputies and placed on the Knesset table 16 Tevet (January 9, 2023)
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.