The Knesset has passed in preliminary reading a bill allowing couples to choose the religious council in which they will be registered and the rabbi who will conduct the ceremony.

The bill, proposed by MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima ), is meant to loosen somewhat the tangle of red tape facing couples who wish to register for marriage. In its present form, the law only allows couples to register in the city one of them lives in.

The bill passed with 30 MKs voting in favor and none against.

The bill could allow couples to choose religious councils according to the leniency or strictness of the registration process.

"The bill is designed to protect couples who wish to register for marriage but cannot or would not, for whatever reason, register in the city of their residence," Schneller said. "The combination of a more open-minded rabbi and better service at the religious council, together with supervision of the marriage, will contribute to the good feeling of the couple on that important day."

According to the bill, the couple would determine its place of registration and the rabbi, and will ensure they would not need to make unnecessary payments for the ceremony.

Schneller said the law would also allow tighter monitoring on prevention of marriage of Jews to those they cannot marry according to Jewish religious law, including those born out of wedlock, gentiles and others.