New divorce bill passes second and third readings in Knesset
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New divorce bill passes second and third readings in Knesset

Law threatens recalcitrant spouses with sanctions, imprisonment

Kadima MK Otniel Schneller (photo credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Kadima MK Otniel Schneller (photo credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Knesset on Tuesday passed a bill through its second and third readings which will require men to grant their ex-wives a get (Jewish divorce bill) within 45 days. The bill, which was proposed by MKs Otniel Schneller (Kadima), and Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) and co-written by Mavoi Satum director Batya Kahane-Dror, aims to significantly decrease the number of recalcitrant husbands in Israel.

One of the most significant changes in the new law is that rabbinical courts will now be required to follow through on all divorce cases from when the judgement is handed down until the divorce itself has been finalized. The new law will empower the courts to impose sanctions on a spouse who refuses to grant a divorce, including forbidding to leave the country, blocking the person’s bank account, denying a driver’s license, or imprisonment.

On the Mavoi Satum website, Kahane-Dror refers to the bill as “an important milestone in the struggle for women’s rights in Israel and for the near equality between the sexes regarding marriage and divorce.”  She also expressed hope that the bill will reduce, perhaps completely prevent the abuse and blackmail that exists under the current law, and will “end the red-tape of the rabbinical courts” in enforcing divorce laws.

Schneller referred to the current problem of get refusal as the “imprisonment of women and loss of their freedom to start a family.” He added that it is the responsibility of a democratic and enlightened society “to release men and women from being refused a get” and that “humanism, democracy and equality – do not contradict Jewish law.”

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