Netanyahu Coalition to Support Women's Return to Rabbinic Judge Panel

New bill requires at least one of two Knesset representatives and one of the Israel Bar Association representatives on committee for appointing rabbinical judges to be female.

At least two women will be on a 10-member committee to appoint rabbinical judges, if the Knesset passes a bill the coalition plans to support.

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said she welcomed Sunday's decision by the Ministeral Committee for Legislation to have the government back her bill, which stipulates that the panel that selects rabbinic judges must include at least two women.

MK Tzipi Hotovely - Michal Fattal
Michal Fattal

"This is a significant change that will ensure that women's interests in selecting rabbinic judges, who exert influence over divorce proceedings, will be taken into consideration," said Hotovely.

The bill requires at least one of the committee's two Knesset representatives and one of the Israel Bar Association representatives to be female.

A preliminary reading will take place in the Knesset on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, the High Court of Justice ruled that it was unacceptable for a committee that appoints judges for the rabbinical courts to be made up solely of men. The committee had at least one female member for 12 years, but that changed in November and the issue ended up in the High Court.

When Hotovely first proposed the bill two weeks ago, ultra-Orthodox pressure pushed it temporarily off the table. Ultra-Orthodox parties argued that the law would change the status quo.

"This is far more important than narrow political considerations, which don't have the slightest thing to do with retaining the status quo or impinging on religion," said Hotovely.