Israel's Cabinet has reversed an initiative aimed at easing the conversion process to Judaism in Israel.

Sunday's move tightens the grip of ultra-Orthodox parties over religious issues in Israel and rolls back reforms made by the previous government.

The new coalition formed earlier this year is dominated by nationalist and religious parties.

The bill helped smooth the conversion path for tens of thousands, many immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who don't qualify under rules of Jewish law and have trouble marrying or receiving other religious services.

Former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency that helps oversee immigration, said it's unacceptable that "a matter so vital to the future of the Jewish people and to Israel's existence as a Jewish state" can be canceled.