Israel Cabinet Compromises on Marriage and Divorce Bill

The Israel Cabinet met in extraordinary session today and worked out a compromise on a bill regulating marriage and divorce over which a split was developing between the religious faction and other elements in the government.

The compromise provides that the rabbinical courts shall have jurisdiction over marriage and divorce and their decisions shall be enforced by the civil courts. In the case of divorce, the district court may imprison a husband who refuses to accede to a rabbinical court decision granting his wife a divorce. Such imprisonment may last until the husband agrees to the decision. In supporting this Talmudic interpretation, the Cabinet overrode the opposition of several of its members.

Immediately after the Cabinet session, Deputy Minister of Religion Zorach Warhaftig left for Safad to seek Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog’s approval of the compromise. If approval is granted, the marriage and divorce bill will be introduced in Parliament Thursday, together with the national service bill for religious women.

The Cabinet meeting was called after representatives of the coalition parties last night failed to work out a satisfactory compromise. The religious Ministers had demanded strict rabbinical regulation of marriage and divorce, while Justice Minister Dr. Peretz Bernstein and several Mapai Ministers objected to having civil courts enforce rabbinical decisions.

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