Alternative wedding, Tel Aviv_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
The “Tzohar Bill” jumped its first hurdle in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday,
despite opposition by haredi factions and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
accidentally voting against the measure.
The bill, proposed by MK Faina
Kirschenbaum (Israel Beiteinu) and given government support by the Ministerial
Committee for Legislation earlier this month, passed its preliminary reading,
meaning it has to undergo three more readings and committee review before it
Should it pass, the measure will allow residents to register
for marriage in any municipality, marking a victory for Israel Beiteinu and
Orthodox-Zionist rabbinical group Tzohar. Currently, every couple wishing to get
married must register in their town, limiting their choice of rabbi.
and United Torah Judaism oppose the measure, which would weaken haredi municipal
rabbis and strengthen Tzohar, which performs approximately 2,000 marriages every
year through the rabbinate in Shoham, northeast of Lod.
The haredi MKs
take issue with the fact that Kirschenbaum’s bill would allow couples to pick
rabbis at the level of halachic (Jewish law) stringency that suits
As the votes for the preliminary reading were counted, with 57 in
favor, it became clear that Netanyahu was one of the 15 opposed. The others were
haredi MKs and ministers.
The prime minister told Deputy Knesset Speaker
Orly Levy-Abecasis (Israel Beiteinu) that his vote was accidental, but she said
she could not change it.
However, it was noted in the protocol that
Netanyahu did not mean to oppose the bill.
Hours later, at the end of a
Kadima-initiated plenum discussion on “the Netanyahu government’s failures,”
opposition leader Tzipi Livni said that if Netanyahu had real policies, he would
not have gotten confused.
She added that the prime minister voted against
the “Tzohar Bill” because he wanted to appease the haredi parties.
Kadima spokesman said that “Netanyahu’s vote will be remembered in disgrace
until the end of time,” and that the “ugly truth” of the prime minister’s
blunder is that he wanted to strengthen the “extremist haredi alliance in the
Earlier this week, sources close to UTJ MK Moshe Gafni said his
party was reconsidering its partnership with the Right, because it interpreted
public statements by the prime minister as anti-haredi.
plenum discussion, Netanyahu praised haredi ministers and MKs as “responsible,”
as opposed to extremist “marginal groups” that have been subject to media
scrutiny for spitting on and verbally abusing non-haredi women.