Coalition Backs IDF Widows Right to Remarry

More than 100 IDF widows plan to come to the Knesset to persuade MKs to support the proposal.

An IDF widow who remarries will no longer lose her Defense Ministry rights, according to two bills that passed preliminary reading in the Knesset Wednesday.

Signatories to the bill include the secretary general of Labor, Eitan Cabel; Shas Chair Yaakov Margi; and the alternate coalition chair, Yoel Hasson (Kadima). Hasson said Wednesday the coalition will vote in favor of the bill.

Right now, a widow who remarries loses her Defense Ministry rights. The result, according to the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization, is that almost half of the Israel Defense Forces widows live with a common-law husband. Every year the Finance Ministry proposes in the Economic Arrangements Law that rights also be denied to widows living with a common-law husband. However, the organization argues "a widow should not be punished for succeeding at personal rehabilitation and at getting on with her life."

Hasson said the intention is to approve the bill in preliminary reading and to hear the results of current negotiations between the widows' organization and the Defense Ministry. If the negotiations succeed, there will be no need for the new law. "If there is no agreement, I will promote the law with all my power," said Hasson. "This problem, which has been going on for years, has to be resolved once and for all," he said.

MK Orit Noked (Labor), who submitted one of the proposals, wrote in the words of explanation that at present widows are forced to choose one of the following options: refraining from a new couple relationship for religious and cultural reasons; an informal relationship; or a relationship in the context of agreements that are not recognized by the state and are not protected. "They do all that to ensure they will not be denied the remuneration," wrote Noked. "It's an absurd situation. The children of those widows who live with a common-law husband are forever explaining to anyone who asks why their parents are not married."

Noked said that "the payments to widows are not an alternative income to that which was lost with the fall of her partner, but compensation for the loss." Therefore, she wrote, there is no reason to cancel the payments when they remarry.

More than 100 IDF widows plan to come to the Knesset to persuade MKs to support the proposal. The chair of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization, Nava Shoham, said that "MKs have to stop being tightfisted with the widows and the orphans, because we are not just another price tag on the shelf. The State of Israel must stop asking itself how much it costs the state coffers, because when our husbands went to the army, they didn't do the math on how much it cost them."

Shoham noted that on every Memorial Day for fallen soldiers, the prime minister and the defense minister say that "in his death he commanded us to keep on living." She added: "They have to remember that they commanded us, the widows and the orphans, to keep on living, too, and life includes a relationship as a couple."