JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – I want to begin this story by thanking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
At 4:43 p.m. Israel time, he issued the following tweet in Hebrew and English to his 2.2 million followers.
“We will not advance any law against the Christian community.”
לא נקדם שום חוק נגד הקהילה הנוצרית.— Benjamin Netanyahu - בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) March 22, 2023
We will not advance any law against the Christian community.
The statement comes after ALL ISRAEL NEWS broke the story on Sunday that two ultra-Orthodox Members of Knesset introduced a bill to outlaw anyone from sharing the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah in Israel, and that violators would be punished with prison sentences.
The story was quickly picked up by a wide range of Evangelical Christian and Israeli Jewish news outlets.
A sample of the coverage follows.
Also, Knesset Member Moshe Gafni, one of the authors of the bill, put out a statement saying his proposal was going nowhere.
In response to reporters' questions:
The mission bill was introduced as in every beginning of the Knesset and not promoted at this stage, so dealing with it now is not relevant.
The bill says that in addition to the existing prohibition in the law on providing benefits as an enticement to convert, the very act of soliciting to convert, when it is done directly to a person, will also be prohibited. It is suggested to distinguish between a situation where the person they are trying to persuade is an adult, in which case the maximum proposed penalty is one year in prison, and a situation in which they are trying to persuade a minor, in which case the maximum proposed penalty is two years in prison.
As mentioned, the bill was again placed on the Knesset table procedurally only with the convening of the current Knesset more than four months ago and is not planned to move forward at this stage, so dealing with it now is irrelevant.
Communication of the Office of the Chairman of the Finance Committee, MK Gafni
I am deeply grateful to the prime minister for his strong, clear unequivocal statement in defense of the Israeli Christian community and that he will not allow the bill by Gafni to move forward.
As I have written, Netanyahu is a longtime proven friend to the global Christian community and this statement is further proof.
Evangelicals all over the world will be very grateful for this move. It is what we expected, and Netanyahu delivered.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.