Israel’s opposition achieved a victory in the Knesset on Wednesday, November 4, by defeating a contentious bill that would have revoked the “tender-years clause” in custody cases between divorcing parents. According to this clause, custody of children over the age of two is automatically given to the mother in divorce cases. The proposed bill which was defeated would have legislated joint custody in such instances. The failure to pass the revised legislation is a significant setback for the coalition, as the government had decided to support the legislation. In Wednesday’s Knesset vote 42 MKs opposed the bill while 41 were in favor.
Gila Gamliel, who as Minister for Social Equality had tabled the new law during the previous Knesset session, was furious at her coalition colleagues when the results of the vote were announced. Gamliel declared that “this is a badge of shame for the coalition, and we might as well look for another coalition. Shame on you! To the opposition I say: You may have won this battle, but the government’s bill will ultimately pass.”
MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash – Joint List), head of the Women Rights and Gender Equality Committee in the Knesset said after the vote that “the attempt to revoke the preferred custodianship of mothers is an attempt to create a formal equality which in a reality that is patently unequal. I’m proud of my female colleagues in the opposition for their cooperation in defeating this bill.”