A controversial bill that would grant the identical tax benefits to same-sex parents in Israel that heterosexual parents receive is to be brought for a preliminary reading before the Knesset on Wednesday, after coalition partners Jewish Home and Yesh Atid appeared to reach a compromise.
Intensive meetings between representatives of the two parties finally yielded an agreement Tuesday allowing the bill, sponsored by MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid), to proceed to the Knesset where it is expected to pass.
The legislation aims to alter current Israeli law that grants higher tax breaks for mothers than for fathers, a situation that puts male gay couples at a disadvantage. The benefits for each child can reach over NIS 2,600 ($740) a year.
According to a report in Maariv, Jewish Home claimed it only agreed to let the bill proceed on the understanding that any reference to gay parents would be removed from the final text of the law, and that instead the finance minister would be given the authority to issue regulations that enable gay parents to enjoy equal benefits.
Yesh Atid, however, flatly rejected the claim, according to the report, saying that the final text of the law had yet to be hammered out between the two parties.
The bill passed the Ministerial Committee for Legislation at the beginning of the month, clearing a crucial hurdle whereby the bill garners the support of the government — and thus an almost guaranteed parliamentary majority. But within hours, Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking him to halt the legislative process and arguing that the bill violates the coalition agreement’s stipulations regarding religion, because of its far-reaching implications for marriage laws.
According to the terms of the coalition agreement that brought the national-religious Jewish Home into the government, the party has the right to veto any legislation that changes the fragile Israeli status quo on religious issues.
Marriage services for Jews in Israel are controlled by the state rabbinate and Israel has no civil marriage.