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Meretz leader blasts Lapid for not advancing civil marriage
By JEREMY SHARON
09/01/2014
Zehava Galon says Lapid's decision to promote civil unions instead of marriage is a surrender to the religious right.
 
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 Gal-On.

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 empty.”

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 communities.

Yesh Atid attempted to advance legislation on civil marriage during 2013, but Bayit Yehudi stymied these efforts.

Religious opponents 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 law.
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