Bride on her wedding day [illustrative] 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin)
Israel's legal marriage age was increased from 17 to 18 on Monday night, the Knesset voted overwhelmingly in favor of the measure.
bill to that effect, proposed by coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu),
MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad), MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) and MK Dov Henin (Hadash),
among others, passed its second and third (final) readings with 55 in favor and
Haredi MKs spoke out against the bill, which is meant to
prevent teenagers from being forced into marriages when they are too young to
make decisions that will impact the rest of their lives.
In some cases,
such as teen pregnancy, a court can allow an exception for those over age
MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said the law discriminates
“You’re fanatics! You’re hypocrites,” he
“This is hypocrisy on the issue of freedom of individuals. Why are
you getting involved in personal lives? Why should someone get involved if a
person wants to get married under age 17? This is audacity,” MK Yisrael Eichler
MK Nissim Ze’ev (Shas) accused Muslim men of kidnapping
Israeli teenage girls and said a 16-year-old can’t be forced to leave an Arab
village, even if the law won’t allow her to get married.
Gal-On and MK
Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) accused Ze’ev of racism.
After the bill was
authorized, Zoabi called it “one of the rare good laws passed by the
Levin said the bill “puts Israel in line with the most
progressive countries in the world and puts an end to forced marriage of
“We saved thousands of young women today,” Levin said.