Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On lambasted Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid for failing
to advance legislation on civil marriage, during a conference the Israel Bar
Association held on Thursday.
“The Israeli public is forced to marry and
divorce according to religious law [under a decision] that was adopted by the
Knesset in 1953 – law that is 3,000 years old and is based on racial
discrimination, religious coercion and discrimination against women, that is
anti-democratic and sees women as the acquisition of their husbands,” said
The Meretz leader then turned her ire on Lapid, saying that
proposals by his party to promote civil unions instead of civil marriage
indicated Yesh Atid’s “surrender” to Bayit Yehudi and lobbyists of the Chief
Rabbinate on the matter.
“They [Bayit Yehudi] exercise their right to
veto [legislation on religion and state] against every idea that even has the
whiff of possibly damaging the monopoly of Orthodox Judaism on marriage in
Israel,” she said. “It has become clear once again that Lapid’s promises are
She went on to say that only a separation of religion and state
could enable free choice in marriage, and noted that two-thirds of the Israeli
public were in favor of civil marriage.
A spokeswoman for Yesh Atid
refused to comment on Gal-On’s criticism of Lapid.
The Chief Rabbinate
and the rabbinical courts have sole jurisdiction over Jewish marriage and
divorce in Israel, while religious institutions for Christians, Muslims and
other religions have jurisdiction over marriage and divorce for their respective
Yesh Atid attempted to advance legislation on civil marriage
during 2013, but Bayit Yehudi stymied these efforts.
of civil marriage cite concerns that it would lead to an increase in
intermarriage with non-Jewish Israelis, as well as in the number of children
from such relationships who would fall into a problematic category of Jewish