Netanyahu slams minister for gay conversion therapy remark… stays mum on Palestinian comment

Rafi Peretz said he believes “it’s possible” that gay people can be converted to be heterosexual. “I can tell you I have a very deep knowledge of education,” he told Channel 12 News on Saturday, before adding that he himself has carried out conversions, Haaretz reports.

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The education minister also said he wants to extend Israeli sovereignty to the Palestinian West Bank, which he referred to by the Biblical name of Judea and Samaria, adding that he would secure Palestinian rights, but that they “wouldn’t be able to interfere politically” and “of course they will not be able to vote.” 

The interviewer said that what he described was apartheid, and Peretz replied that solutions to the “complex reality in Israeli society” had to be found, “where sovereignty will be, whether it applies on people or land.” 

Netanyahu said Peretz’s gay conversion remarks were “unacceptable and do not reflect my government’s position.” He also said that Peretz told him that “the Israeli school system will keep accepting Israeli boys and girls… regardless of sexual orientation.” However, the Israeli PM didn’t comment on the Palestinian elements of Peretz’s remarks. 

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LGBTQ groups and other lawmakers were outraged by Peretz’s conversion comments, with some calling for his resignation. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is challenging Netanyahu in the upcoming September election said: “Bibi, Peretz, you’re not converting anyone. We’ll convert your dark government to an enlightened one, based on equality, values and democracy.”

Conversion therapy is not illegal in Israel, but is widely discouraged and only used in some conservative and Orthodox communities. 

Israel uses its gay-friendly reputation as a selling point for tourists, which Palestinian supporters say is ‘pink-washing’ and a propaganda tool to present the country as progressive to mask its poor treatment of Palestinians. 

Peretz created headlines last week when he compared the marriage of US Jews and non-Jews to a “second Holocaust.” 

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