The German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has drawn up the outlines of new legislation permitting the circumcision of boys after a court controversially deemed the rite to be a crime, a spokesman said.
The main points, which have been sent to regional authorities and concerned groups, allow circumcision with certain provisos including that it be carried out with the "most effective pain relief possible", he said.
Parents must also receive a full explanation beforehand about the procedure, which could not be carried out in cases where a child's well-being may be in danger, such as in those involving haemophiliacs.
The outline also states that, as a rule, circumcisions are to be conducted by doctors but can also be done on an up to six-month-old baby by someone chosen by their religious community.
That person must be as skilled at circumcision as a doctor, it says.
"Circumcision remains permitted in Germany," the spokesman said, referring to the outlines for the new law.
"The regulation is to remove the uncertainty after the judgment of the Cologne court," he added.
Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, expressed satisfaction with the proposal, which met many of the Jews' demands. "The Justice Ministry deserves respect and recognition for making such a clever suggestion," he said, adding that though the document was a good basis for discussion, details still had to be ironed out. The debate, he said, should now finally be carried out soberly.
The court's judgement published in June that circumcision was tantamount to grievous bodily harm united Jewish and Muslim groups in opposition and caused uproar from religious and political leaders in Israel and Muslim countries.
Diplomats have admitted that the ruling has proved "disastrous" for Germany's international image, particularly in light of its Nazi past, and the debate even prompted the former head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Charlotte Knobloch, to ask whether the country still wanted a Jewish community.
In response, the lower house of German parliament, the Bundestag, called on the government to draw up a legal ruling.
About four million Muslims and more than 200,000 Jews live in Germany.