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Liberals Defy Coalition; Will Introduce Civil Marriages Bill

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The Independent Liberal Party decided today to defy its partners in Premier Golda Meir’s coalition government and go ahead with the introduction, set for Wednesday, of a limited bill for civil marriage which presently does not exist in Israel. Marriages are under the control of the Orthodox rabbinate, the only officially recognized rabbinate in Israel. A majority of the Cabinet has held such a measure was in contravention of the coalition agreement.

Moshe Kol, Tourism Minister and Liberal Party head, told Mrs. Meir tonight that his party’s executive had decided to instruct Gideon Hausner, MK, to proceed to introduce his measure. It would permit civil marriage in such situations as a Kohen and a divorcee and of “mamzerim,” (Illegitimate) children whose mothers had not converted to Judaism. Such marriages are now barred in Israel.

The bill is expected to be defeated by a large majority, observers said. Herut, the Orthodox Agudat Israel, Poalei Agudat Israel and the Labor Alignment, with the exception of Mapam, would oppose it. Mapam has freedom to vote independently on religious issues under the coalition agreement. The religious parties will of course oppose the bill. Most members of the Liberal wing of the Gahal Parliamentary bloc may vote for it, as well as the Communists, leftist splinter groups and independent deputies and Mapam members. But their total is far short of a majority. Alignment leaders said they would meet on the problem but did not say when.

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