Israel Supreme Court Starts Hearing on Validity of Intermarriage

The Israel Supreme Court began today a hearing on a case involving the validity of a marriage abroad between a citizen and a non-resident Gentile. The principle involved affects a growing number of couples in Israel who are now regarded as common-law spouses. The ruling is expected to have far-reaching consequences.

The test case developed from a petition by Yisroel Schlesinger after the Interior Ministry refused to give to the woman he married, a Belgian, Christian, an Israeli identity card other than one listing her maiden name and describing her as a spinster. Schlesinger asserted in his petition that his status is registered as that of a married person and he is so regarded for purposes of income taxes and national insurance.

Zvi Bar Niv, the state attorney, contended that Israel cannot recognize the marriage of an Israeli citizen contracted abroad which he could not contract in Israel. He added that Schlesinger, who took his fiancee to Cyprus for the marriage, could obtain a permanent resident’s visa for her.

Because the Supreme Court tribunal is made up of five justices for the case, there will be no appeal from the decision. The hearing was adjourned after the preliminary pleas.

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