Precedent: Rabbinical court to hear divorce case of non-Israelis

Ruling to affect couple living in French protectorate of Guadalupe Islands.

Rabbinic court 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Rabbinic court 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
In a precedent-setting decision, the long arm of the rabbinical courts has extended itself all the way to the Guadalupe Islands and France, the rabbinical courts spokeswoman said Sunday. A few days ago, the Higher Rabbinical Court agreed to consider a divorce lodged by a woman against her husband, even though neither of them is an Israeli citizen. Both are French citizens who have lived for the past 20 years in the French protectorate of the Guadalupe Islands. The higher court rejected the husband's appeal against a decision by Tel Aviv District Rabbinical Court to issue an order preventing the husband from leaving the country during the divorce proceedings. A panel of three Higher Rabbinical Court judges ruled that the rabbinical court was entitled to hear the case because the center of the couple's life was in Israel. They owned a home here, had invested $14 million, visited the country five times a year and the husband had buried his father here. The woman informed the court that the couple had separated in 2005 and divorced in a civil proceeding in 2007. However, they had not yet been divorced according to Jewish law. The husband argued that the decision by the court to hear the divorce case injured his rights as a French citizen. However, the dayanim in the case - Rabbi Hagai Izirer, Menahem Hashai and Zion Algrabli - ruled that their decision did not violate his rights as a French citizen because French law did not oblige him to obtain a divorce in a religious court. Furthermore, they argued, the man was involved in lawsuits on other matters in Israel, thus acknowledging that Israel had international authority regarding his affairs. The court also pointed out that it had offered the husband an opportunity to have the case heard by a Jewish court in France on the condition he would guarantee to abide by its decision. According to the terms of the offer, the court would retract its order barring him from leaving Israel. In return, he would sign a divorce agreement and deposit it with the Israeli religious court, which would only give it to the woman if the French court agreed to grant her a divorce. According to the Higher Rabbinical Court, the fact that he refused the offer even though he claimed that the travel prohibition was causing him serious economic harm cast doubt on his claim.