The Knesset approved the first reading of a bill on Monday, November 13, that would require civil judges to rule “in light of the principles of Jewish law” if confronted with a case for which there is currently no law or legal precedent.
The bill, which still must be approved in two additional readings, passed by a vote of 36-30; this despite criticism expressed during the past year over concerns that Jewish religious law discriminates against women, Arabs and members of the LGBT community.
One of the bill’s main opponents, MK Dov Khenin (Hadash – Joint List), has charged that the proposed law in essence constitutes religious coercion. “This is leading us to a halakhic state,” he said, meaning one governed by Jewish religious law. According to MK Khenin, “the discriminatory atmosphere being fostered by the far-right government finds its expression in the work of the Knesset, where a minority of the population is dominating and forcing its views on the majority. Jewish law is part of this atmosphere.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was accused of choosing “apartheid” and permanent military occupation of the Palestinians during a special session of the Knesset on Monday. The debate focused on “the Israeli government’s political challenge in light of new opportunities that have been created,” and was initiated by the opposition party Meretz.
Speaking during the session, Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) stated that “we are at a crossroad where it is clearer than ever that we have only two options: peace or apartheid.” Odeh accused Netanyahu of “time and again” refusing to take the route of peace, “choosing instead to continue the occupation and military control of another people,” adding “we choose peace while you are choosing apartheid.”