The Knesset votes 58-43 in a preliminary vote to advance legislation that would expand the powers of state-run rabbinic courts, giving them the authority to again hear civil cases.
Until 2006, state-run rabbinic courts could hear such cases — disputes between workers and employees, between businesses, or between landlords and renters, for instance — but the High Court found that the rabbinic judges did not have legal authority to do so and they were stripped of that power. Currently, rabbinic judges are limited to overseeing marriage and divorce proceedings for all Jewish Israelis, as well as certain issues dealing with conversions, and occasionally with wills and inheritances. Private rabbinic courts could still hear civil cases if both parties agreed.
The bill, backed by the ultra-Orthodox Shas and UTJ parties, would restore the power of state-run rabbinic courts to adjudicate civil matters, provided both sides agree to such a move.