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The Haifa Labor Court handed down a precedent-setting ruling this week: A child born posthumously to a civil service pensioner whose wife was artificially inseminated with his sperm after his death is entitled by law to a survivor's stipend.

The issue came before the court in a petition filed by the pensioner's widow on the girl's behalf. The petition, drafted by attorney Hussein Abu Hussein and the Israel National Council for the Child, challenged the Civil Service Commission official in charge of pension payments over his refusal to pay the benefit.

The deceased worked in the education system for many years. Several years after his retirement, when he was already receiving a pension, he married the plaintiff, who is many years his junior. Until the wedding, he had been single and had never brought children into the world.

Just 10 months after the wedding, the pensioner died of an illness. In his will, he gave permission for his wife to become pregnant by artificial insemination with his sperm. The woman began fertility treatments a year after her husband's death, and nine months later, she gave birth to a daughter.

Two years after the child was born, the woman listed her in the Population Registry as the daughter of the deceased, and the National Insurance Institute approved a survivors' pension for them. However, the Civil Service Commission refused to do the same, on the grounds that a widow is entitled to the benefit only if she lived with the deceased for more than three years.

As for the child, the commission argued that the logic behind the survivors' stipend is to support dependents who had been directly supported by the deceased before his death - not people born after his death.

On the other side, attorney Abu Hussein and the Council for the Child argued that the law makes no mention of when the child was born. The only requirements are that the child in question be the offspring of the deceased, and that he or she not be an independent adult.

The court - in a bench comprised of Judge Avital Rimon-Kaplan and public representatives Elia Roumani and Sagiv Avraham - agreed that there is no difference between a child born before his father's death and a child born posthumously.

"There is no justification for rejecting the minor's entitlement to a survivor's stipend following her father's death," the court wrote. "The opposite is the case: Depriving the minor of the survivor's stipend is tantamount to unacceptable discrimination and a violation of the right to equality among children."

Under the ruling, the girl will be entitled to the stipend until the age of 21.