MK Alex Miller
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Photo: Hagai Aharon
MK Jamal Zahalka
Photo: Hagai Aharon

Cabinet approves Nakba, civil marriage bills

Proposals passed by Legislative Committee mean Treasury can withhold funds from state-sponsored bodies that 'reject Israel's Jewish, democratic character'; marriage of non-denomination couples to be recognized by State

The Knesset's Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs approved two controversial bills on Sunday, that will be brought before the Knesset: The amended 'Nakba Law' and the 'Civil Marriage Law'.


According to the amended Nakba bill, that was altered following the public storm it caused several weeks ago, there will be no criminal consequences for marking Israel's Independence Day as a day of mourning.


However, the Finance Ministry will be entitled to withhold funding from public bodies that fund activities that undermine the State's Jewish and democratic character.


The bill, proposed by Yisrael Beiteinu MK Alex Miller, states that public bodies that receive support from the State will not be permitted to spend any money on activities that "deny the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people; deny the State's democratic character; support an armed struggle or acts of terror by the enemy or terror organizations against the State of Israel; incitement to racism, to violence and terror, and dishonoring the State's flag or the State's symbols."


The approval of the bill porompted angry reactions. Balad faction Chairman MK Jamal Zahalka said, "This is a law of cowards, little racists that will not influence us and will even cause us to bring up the Nakba more.


"If the word Nakba scares them, then they have a problem. This is the only country in the world that legislates a law to rewrite history. Anyone afraid of the word Nakba is like a criminal afraid of their victim."


MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List – Ta'al) said, "This is a government on a rampage against Arab citizens. The ministers are more poisoned than Border Guard officers. These cabinet ministers and MKs are driven by the slogan: 'Beat the Arab'."


'Civil Marriage Law is a fraud'

Meanwhile, the committee also okayed the civil marriage bill, that will enable the recognition of the marriage of Israelis defined by the State as "non-denomination", i.e. – having no official religious affiliation. The bill was the initiative of Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman.


The minister proposed that a judge be appointed to manage the registration of married couples that are not defined as Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze or Circassians, but are recognized as citizens or permanent residents of Israel.


If the proposal is approved by the Knesset, couples without an official religion will be eligible for the same rights as married couples.


Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director general of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, who demanded civil marriage for all slammed the decision.  


According to Kariv, "The Israeli government chooses to sell out the olim and the rest of the citizens of Israel to the rabbinical establishment for coalition agreements. This bill is a fraud that gives a marginal solution to less than four percent of the Israeli couples, who are forced to marry each year in foreign countries."


Sharon Roffe-Ofir contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 07.19.09, 16:27
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