The fragile coalition agreement between Israel’s Likud and Blue and White parties that brought an end to a year-long political stalemate move a step closer to unraveling on Wednesday after a bill banning gay conversion therapy passed its first Knesset reading.
The Likud accused Blue and White of violating the coalition agreement over its last-minute support of the bill, with a Likud minister going so far as to say that the move could trigger an early election—which would be the country’s fourth in a little over a year.
The passing of the bill, which would make conversion therapy illegal, enraged the haredi parties, key coalition members, which threatened to begin advancing their own bills next week in violation of the coalition agreement.
‘Conversion therapy’ is a treatment program that helps gay people become straight. The more religious parties like the Muslim Joint List and the Haredi (ultra-orthodox) UTJ and Shas opposed the bill as homosexuality is a grave transgression according to the Torah:
Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence.(Leviticus 18:22)
According to Haaretz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is looking to collapse the current government coalition and call for new elections. The coalition crisis that the conversion therapy bill caused could be the perfect catalyst.
According to Israel’s Channel 12, senior members of Blue and White admitted that they had supported the bill as a tit-for-tat move in response to the support by some members of the Likud—on the orders of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn (Blue and White)—for a proposal earlier this month to form a parliamentary committee of inquiry into alleged conflicts of interest in the country’s Supreme Court.
That initiative, put forward by Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich, was voted down 54-43 on July 9.
This is an edited version of an article first that appeared in Israel Hayom.Breaking Israel News also contributed to this report.