(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Divorced fathers who joined the Likud en masse before the last election to make sure mothers of young children stop receiving automatic custody vowed on Wednesday that they would punish Likud faction chairman David Bitan for blocking that legislation.
The legislation, proposed by MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) and backed by Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, called for the cancellation of the “early childhood clause” granting mothers automatic custody of children under the age of six. The bill was meant to go to a preliminary vote on Wednesday, after the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved it Sunday.
There was much debate among the ministers before they approved the bill, and the discussion continued throughout the week, with Bitan uncertain he could get a majority to vote for it when Wednesday came.
Shas and United Torah Judaism oppose the bill, and Bayit Yehudi, Kulanu and Likud MKs are split on it, with some vehemently opposing the change.
The coalition chairman claims he spoke to Kisch on Tuesday night, and that he agreed to having a two-year “early childhood clause.” Then Bitan took the offer to the heads of coalition factions, who insisted that custody go to the mothers of children aged three and under. Bitan said he worked out a compromise by which it would be for two-and-a-half-year-olds and under, and the bill would only be brought to a vote if Kisch agreed to the change.
Kisch, however, said he agreed to no such thing, pulled his bill from the docket, and said he could bring it back whenever he wants, since it has ministerial approval.
“I won’t compromise on the future of our children. Children deserve two parents. They are not for sale,” Kisch said. “It’s unfortunate that the coalition chairman dealt with a bill he doesn’t understand at all after misleading the head of coalition factions and offering a compromise I did not accept.”
Bitan said “many in the Likud and the coalition oppose canceling the early childhood clause, and there is no reason to destabilize the coalition for a preliminary vote. This is a complicated subject and it is important to both sides.”
Amir Shipperman, head of the “D for Daddy” (Alef zeh Abba) group of more than 1,000 divorced fathers in the Likud, said that they will make Bitan pay.
“We are ashamed of the Knesset, and we are ashamed of David Bitan’s behavior and petty politics over our children,” Shipperman said. “We’re proud of Gamliel and Kisch, who continued fighting for all of our children, even though they are minors who have no electoral power. Everyone else should be ashamed of themselves.”
Shipperman vowed to “get back at Bitan,” along with “anyone who wants to harm our children and our rights as fathers.”
“Everyone will pay,” he warned. “We will not forget who sold us and our children out; not when the primaries come.”
Shipperman said that on Tuesday night, his forum demonstrated outside Bitan’s home in Rishon Lezion, and they began signing up relatives to the Likud, bringing in hundreds of new members. By the next election, they hope to have a bloc of several thousand people.
“What happened today is a crime, and crimes must be paid for,” Shipperman warned.