Likud said to accept Smotrich demand not to join global treaty on domestic violence

Religious Zionism reportedly concerned by immigration implications of Istanbul Convention, as treaty aimed at tackling violence against women grants asylum to international victims

Religious Zionism party head MK Bezalel Smotrich after coalition talks at a hotel in Jerusalem, December 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Religious Zionism party head MK Bezalel Smotrich after coalition talks at a hotel in Jerusalem, December 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The coalition deal between Religious Zionism and Likud includes an agreement that Israel will not sign onto the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty intended to battle violence against women, according to a report Sunday.

Previously, Israeli politicians from left and right had lobbied the government to join the landmark 2011 treaty. Outgoing Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar pushed for Israel to join, but outgoing Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked resisted the efforts due to her concerns over clauses granting political asylum to international victims of domestic violence.

Smotrich’s demand to stay out of the convention appeared to be over that same concern, Walla news reported, with the far-right MK worried over immigration implications.

The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel censured the reported agreement between the parties, saying “the fact that the incoming prime minister is willing to forsake women to psychological torture and unabating violence is inconceivable.”

The Istanbul Convention, named for the city where it was opened for signatures in 2011, is aimed at protecting women from domestic abuse and other violence. Signed by 45 countries and the European Union, it requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting domestic violence and similar abuse, as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.

It has become a target for some conservatives around the world who argue the accord poses a threat to “traditional families.” Some critics claim the treaty promotes LGBT values through the use of categories like gender, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The incoming government has been under intense scrutiny in recent days for the often far-reaching agreements reached between Likud and the religious and far-right parties it will partner with in the new coalition.

Some of the clauses and plans in the emerging deals between Likud and its partners include setting the death penalty for terrorists, advancing annexation of the West Bank, allowing potential anti-LGBT discrimination, enabling gender-segregated public events and limiting conversions and immigration rights.

Religious Zionism lawmaker Orit Strock, who is set to be a minister in the new government, caused an uproar Sunday when she said doctors should be allowed to refuse to provide treatments that contravene their religious faith, under certain conditions.

Incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu distanced himself from her position and denied that his coalition would allow a law to this effect to pass, although nascent coalition agreements reportedly state that the current law against discrimination based on religious beliefs will be amended.

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