Shas makes waves over marriage flexibility bill

Lieberman scolds Landau over his "kosher electricity" initiative.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
December 20, 2011 03:45
2 minute read.
Uzi Landau (R) and Avigdor Lieberman (L)

Uzi Landau (R) and Avigdor Lieberman (L)_311. (photo credit: Reuters)

Religious Affairs Minister Ya’acov Margi (Shas) appealed a decision by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday in favor of a bill enabling residents to register for marriage in any municipality, setting the stage for a clash between Shas and Israel Beiteinu at next week’s cabinet meeting.

Currently, every couple wishing to get married must register in their town, limiting their choice of rabbi. In addition, the rabbinates of some municipalities are stricter than others, causing problems for converts and their children, as well as those born Jewish whose parents were married abroad.

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Shas officials said the bill violated the coalition agreement that bars changes in the status quo on matters of religion and state without the agreement of all parties in the coalition. But coalition Chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said Shas supported similar legislation in the past, so it cannot veto the bill.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose Israel Beiteinu colleague MK Faina Kirschenbaum proposed the bill, vowed on Monday that he would pass the bill in the Knesset next week no matter what happens in the cabinet.

“We will bring the bill to the Knesset with or without the cabinet and with or without the coalition,” Lieberman said defiantly.

“We could have passed it last week, but we waited for the other coalition parties. We did our best to reach compromises with them, but next Wednesday is our deadline.”

Speaking at a Knesset press conference, Lieberman also expressed frustration with the government’s handling of the issue of unauthorized outposts, but he expressed hope that a formula could be found to resolve differences on the matter.

He lashed out at the media for devoting such attention to the issue.

“I want to see such enthusiasm and insistence on obeying the law for the 100,000 illegal buildings [of Arabs and Beduin] in the Negev and Galilee,” he said.

Lieberman said that despite his disappointment at the slow pace of approving legislation sponsored by his party, he was still satisfied with the coalition and he hoped the government would complete its term, set to end on October 22, 2013.

“I don’t see a reason to advance the election,” Lieberman said. “With the current instability in the region, bringing the country into a five or six-month-long election period just because political correspondents want action is not the right thing to do. My bet is the election will not be moved up.”

In a rare moment of public internal strife in Israel Beiteinu, Lieberman scolded his No. 2 in the party, Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau, for promoting an initiative that would have given the Chief Rabbinate the authority to oversee operations at the Israel Electric Corporation.

After facing public pressure, Landau retracted the proposal, which is known as the “kosher electricity” bill.

“We have gotten used to a kosher bus, kosher electricity, and soon [the haredim] will want kosher air,” Lieberman said while sitting next to Landau.

“This is a bill that has no place on our agenda and we have no intention of promoting it, not now or ever.”

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.


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