The first meeting of the Conversion Roundtable chaired by Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and Zvi Hauser, Secretary of the Government, took place yesterday in Jerusalem.

Participating in the closed door meeting were the leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel, as well as officials representing the Minister of Interior, Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice.

“There was an open and candid discussion about the needs of the State of Israel and the needs of the Diaspora,” according to Sharansky. “All parties agreed that there must be transparency of the decision making process on both sides.”

He added, “When it comes to recognizing overseas conversions for the purposes of Aliyah, I believe we all came away from the discussion with the clear sense that the gap is narrow and bridgeable.”

The parties agreed to use this unique forum for moving from general discussions of principle to dealing with specific cases at future meetings.

They also agreed to use the interim period to try and accelerate solutions for a number of special cases.