JERUSALEM (JTA) — A bill that allows civil marriage in Israel to couples who could not be married by the rabbinate failed by a large margin in its initial reading.
The Civil Union bill, introduced Wednesday by the Kadima Party’s Meir Sheetrit, was defeated 58-22. One-third of the Kadima lawmakers did not participate in the vote, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The bill allows a civil marriage where at least one member of a couple is not recognized as Jewish. It creates a marriage registrar in the Justice Ministry authorized to legalize civil marriages for those who are not eligible to marry by current law as well as divorces.
The bill does not contravene Jewish law since it does not allow civil marriages for those who may marry by Jewish law, according to Sheetrit’s office.
It is the second civil union bill to fail this winter. A more comprehensive bill sponsored by several Kadima members was defeated in October.
All but one member of the Yisrael Beiteinu party led by Avigdor Lieberman voted against the bill, even though the party election platform promised that the party would submit its own civil union bill within a year of taking office. Kadima is in the government coalition with the fervently Orthodox Shas party, which opposes any kind of civil marriage.
"It is a travesty that in the State of Israel there are people who must travel to Cyprus to get married," Sheetrit said after the vote. "These individuals are citizens of Israel, they live in Israel, their children serve in the army and even give their lives for the state, and yet they cannot legally marry.
"The members of Yisrael Beiteinu are apparently more interested in their spot in the government than in keeping promises made to their voters, but I am more interested in bringing a solution to the more than 350,000 Israelis who want to but cannot legally marry."