The civil union bill has only a very slim chance of becoming law, according to sources within Yesh Atid, the party sponsoring the bill. According to the sources, the party's coalition partners are strongly opposed to the inclusion of the the right to same-sex marriage in the bill.
At least two parties in the governing coalition, Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu, have already expressed objection to the proposed law, which is Yesh Atid's flagship bill. These parties have the right to block the advancement of the civil union bill, and without their consent it will not be possible to bring it to a vote in the Knesset.
The Likud has yet to decide whether to veto the proposed legislation or to allow its Knesset members freedom to vote as they choose - if the bill ever makes it to the Knesset plenum. The ultra-Orthodox parties, like the Arab parties, are expected to vote against the bill. If Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu decide against casting its veto, thus allowing the Knesset to vote on the bill, Yesh Atid could try to enlist support from Knesset members who belong to the Hatnuah, Labor and Meretz parties. However, this measure is unlikely to garner enough votes to pass the law.
The veto power, which is part of the coalition agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Habayit Hayehudi, states that "legislative changes in religious matters will be [made] with the agreement of all components of the coalition." MK Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid), who wrote the proposed law along with MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), said that presenting the law to the Knesset made Tuesday "a historic day." "The purpose of the law is to allow every couple that is unable or unwilling to be married by the Rabbinate to live without losing their civil," said Calderon.
But Habayit Hayehudi left no room for doubt on Tuesday: The faction will not allow the law to advance in its present form.
"The Civil Union Law harms the basic Jewish values of the State of Israel," said Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel. "Anyone who thinks they can force such legislation that damages the Jewish identity of the State of Israel while dividing the people is mistaken and misleading."
He vowed to do everything within his power to block the law, and that he had the support of other party MKs.
Others in Habayit Hayehudi said on Tuesday that the reason Yesh Atid was pushing the law now was the party's drop in the polls.
"If Yesh Atid wanted to advance the matter, it would have conducted a dialogue with us and tried to reach a wording that would be acceptable to us. Instead, [Party Chairman Yair] Lapid went to the media to make headlines and try to improve his situation in the polls," said a source in Habayit Hayehudi. The official announcement released by the party did not completely slam the door on the initiative, but demanded that it be included in the drafting of such legislation.
Any such initiative in the future cannot include same-sex marriage, said senior party officials. "With all our openness, we are still not Yesh Atid," one party figure said.