The Knesset made history on Wednesday when it adopted in a third reading and by a great majority a bill allowing the division of property between a couple before a divorce was granted.
Fifty-eight Knesset members supported the bill and 21 – most of them members of the haredi factions, voted against. Knesset Member Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) was removed from the Knesset floor after loudly protesting the bill's approval.
The new law brings new hope for women whose husbands refuse to grant them a divorce. Until today, these women were often subjected to extortion by their husbands, who conditioned the divorce on a distribution of the joint property according to their will.
According to the new law, property distribution will be possible even prior to the formal divorce, as long as one of the following provisions exists: A year has passed since the divorce procedure was launched or since a motion for property distribution has been filed; there is a rift between the couple, or they have been living separately for nine months out of a year; a restraining order was issued or an indictment for domestic violence was served against the partner of the spouse seeking property distribution.
'End to ongoing injustice'
"This brings wonderful tidings for society in Israel and women in particular," said MK Menachem Ben-Sasson (Kadima), chairman of the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and one of the bill's initiators.
"Today, the Knesset said 'enough' to extortionist methods and to the disgraceful exploitation of the weaker spouse," Ben-Sasson declared. "The new law will bring an end to unacceptable phenomena and ongoing injustices that have no place in a properly-run state."
National Religious Party Chairman Zevulun Orlev, who also promoted the bill, added: "Many men use the assets under their control to force their wives to agree to a divorce in degrading financial terms or to refuse a divorce altogether.
This law aims to make it easier for women who were refused a divorce and to prevent the conditioning of a divorce on the woman agreeing to give away the property." "
According to MK Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad), "This is a Jewish, just and moral law that takes away another tool from the hands of exploitive, get-refusing husbands."