State List to Present Civil Marriage Bill; Ilp Postpones Its Bill for a Year

The State List, an opposition faction with four Knesset seats, announced today that it would present its own civil marriages bill before the House on Thursday. The announcement followed a decision by the Independent Liberal Party last week to postpone Knesset action on the controversial Hausner civil marriages bill for one year to give Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren an opportunity to find halachic solutions to the problem.

The State List spokesman said the faction was not seeking a general civil marriages bill but a law that would empower district courts to authorize civil marriages for couples denied marriage rites by the rabbinical courts. He said they would press for a vote on their measure within two months.

The State List apparently waited until now to see what the ILP would decide at its national convention. The convention came to a stormy close Thursday night after voting 240-160 to give Rabbi Goren the 12-month period of grace he requested. Younger Party elements demanded an immediate showdown in the Knesset on the Hausner bill and at one point some delegates came to blows. But in the end, the Party leadership prevailed.

Moshe Kol, Minister of Tourism, disclosed later that the ILP’s president, Pinhas Rosen proposed that the ILP should refuse to join any future coalition government unless its members are assured of their right to vote their conscience on controversial bills. Had the ILP compelled a Knesset vote on the Hausner bill against the wishes of the coalition majority it would have been forced to leave the government. No such crisis is expected to develop over the State List measure.

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