Knesset passes civil union bill


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Knesset passed a civil union bill, although it is expected to help only a small percentage of Israelis who do not want a religious wedding.

The bill introduced by the Yisrael Beiteinu party passed its second and third readings during a midnight vote Monday. The lawmakers’ vote was 56-4; lawmakers from the religious Shas and United Torah Judaism parties opposed the bill and did not attend the vote.

Yisrael Beiteinu had promised to pass a civil union bill during its first year in the government; the year ends next week.

The new law will allow Israelis without a religious affiliation to register a civil marriage with a special couplehood registrar, a position that will be created. It will help about 10 percent of couples who want a civil marriage, according to reports.

Under current law, only civil marriages performed abroad are recognized in Israel.

Several lawmakers, saying the new law does not go far enough, filibustered the vote for nearly three hours.

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