The Ministerial Committee on Legislation decided Monday to support a bill broadening the authorities of rabbinical courts over all matrimonial matters.
Should the bill pass its Knesset readings, it would serve to upgrade the rabbinical courts' judicial authority over seemingly civil matters, such as property settlements; and would allow them to issue subpoenas and warrants – just like the civil courts.
According to a report in Yedioth Ahronoth, Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog (Labor) and Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila (Kadima) initiated the bill contrary to Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann's stand on the matter.
"The (committee's) decision will change the status-quo regarding marriage and divorce," said Friedmann. "The bill gives (rabbinical) courts absolute authority and we must make sure this change doesn't benefit just one side."
The Justice Ministry further said that the bill presents a radical change in the rabbinical courts' authority, by giving them rule over issues which have nothing to do with their original mission.
Labor Knesset Members Ophir Pines-Paz and Shelly Yacimovich slammed the new bill, saying it harms women's status. The two called for an emergency Labor session on the matter: "It is inconceivable that one of Labor's ministers would bring forwards a bill which goes against the coalition agreement and violates the status-quo," they said.
Herzog, on his part, said Pines and Yacimovich's response was "outrageous and out of line… The bill has the full support of women's groups including Na'amat (The Movement for the Advancement of the Status of Women) for being a preventive measure against the exploitation of women going through a divorce."
Yuval Karni contributed to this report