Divorced men's group threatens coalition chair

Matan Kahane of the opposition Yamina Party said he would only agree to postpone the vote, if it would help the bill pass. But he said he saw no point if the Knesset is about to be dispersed.

MK Miki Zohar, 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
MK Miki Zohar, 2019.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A powerful lobby of divorced men in the Likud central committee on Tuesday warned coalition chairman Miki Zohar (Likud) they will take revenge against him politically if he blocks a divorce reform bill from advancing in the Knesset.
The bill would cancel the so-called Tender Years Clause, which since 1962 has guaranteed custody to the mother of all children if one of them is five years old or younger. It will come to a vote on Wednesday.
The legislation has strong support among Likud MKs, who drafted a similar bill that was defeated in November 2015 because female coalition MKs voted against it. Some Blue and White MKs also want to vote for the bill.
But because the bill was submitted by Matan Kahana of the opposition Yamina Party, it has no chance of passing unless Zohar suspends coalition discipline – a step he has said he is unlikely to take.
“Helpless children are being deprived of their natural right to be raised and educated by both of their parents,” Amir Shifferman, who heads the fathers-rights organization A is for Aba, said in a letter to Zohar. “Anyone who tries to harm our rights and our children needs to know that we will hold him responsible.”
In response, Zohar said he was trying to help and had not made a final decision.
Kahana said he was aware that it is difficult for any opposition MK to pass bills, but he decided it is important to return the issue to the public agenda.
“The view that it is the role of the mother to raise children, and it is the role of the father to fund them, was common 60 years ago,” he said. “Eight years ago, a government committee recommended canceling the Tender Years Clause and replacing it with a new model of shared responsibilities for both parents. The time has come to change the law. This is an opportunity to stop harm from being done to fathers, mothers and especially children.”
Legal experts and rabbis were involved in drafting the bill to ensure that it would be fair and balanced, Kahana said. The word custody would be removed from the law and replaced with the phrase legal responsibility, he said.
Kahana said he would only agree to postpone the vote if helps pass the bill. But there would be no point if the Knesset is about to be dispersed, he added.
“I will ask for a roll-call vote so that the public will see who supports this justified struggle and who doesn’t,” Kahana said.