‘Israel will not be a haven for divorce refusers,’ minister says
Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana takes on men who refuse to grant their wives a religious divorce and flee to Israel knowing full well no legal proceeding can be launched against them in the Jewish state.
By Hanan Greenwood | July 2, 2021
Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana is set to propose a bill to the Knesset Sunday to grant local authorities the ability to prosecute religious divorce refusers who flee to Israel knowing no legal proceeding can be launched against them in the Jewish state.
According to Jewish law, unless a woman is granted a divorce by her husband, she becomes an agunah, “anchored” and “chained” in her marriage without the ability to remarry.
Israel has in recent years become a haven for such refusers due to the fact that the local justice system cannot prosecute a non-Israeli for refusal to grant a get, a Jewish writ of divorce.
In July 2018, under the initiative of Knesset member Aliza Lavie, rabbinical courts were granted temporary authority to hear divorce claims of non-Israeli citizens as well.
According to reports, in the last three years, more than 35 women obtained divorce papers thanks to the temporary law. As a result of such success, Kahana is now looking to make the law part of permanent legislation.
“Israel will not be a haven for divorce refusers,” he told Israel Hayom. “The temporary grant proved to be a valuable tool against get-refusers … Therefore, I made the decision to bring it into permanent legislation. The issue of divorce refusal requires in-depth attention and I intend on making sure that the government does its utmost to bring about solutions.”
Pnina Omer, director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Yad La’isha: Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center said: “Since the temporary law came into force, we have been privileged to represent and release several women whose husbands came to Israel and met the conditions that give judicial authority to the courts in Israel, according to the new regulations. Reality has shown that this is a regulation that changes life. Thanks to this temporary law, we were able to provide assistance and free women from their chains in cases we couldn’t reach in the past.
“We congratulate Minister Matan Kahana on his initiative to regulate the temporary provision into law and ensure that it is used as widely as possible. The Jewish world’s agunot know that we stand and stand by them,” Omer added.