Gantz Goes for Civil Marriage as Party Hits Bottom

YERUSHALAYIM -
Election posters of leader of the Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, alongside the Ayalon highway, Tel Aviv. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz called for legislation to enable civil marriage in Israel, as his Blue and White party hit bottom in the polls.

Gantz’s proposal, which would undo the decades-old status quo which gives the Chief Rabbinate authority over marriage and divorce, would allow couples who cannot marry according to halacha to obtain governmental recognition.

The measure is intended as a temporary one during the pandemic, during which these couples are unable to travel abroad to marry, according to Yedioth Ahronoth. Typically, they undergo a civil marriage outside Israel and are registered as married with Israeli authorities when they return.

The religious parties have long opposed such proposals, including this one, notwithstanding its temporary basis. Likud, which is committed to upholding the status quo in its coalition agreement, is not expected to support the bill.

The report came as a survey by the Panels Politics research group forecast that if elections were held today, Blue and White would fail to pass the 3.25 percent electoral threshold, getting just 2.2% of the vote. Thus, Gantz’s move is seen as a bid to ramp up support with an appeal to non-observant voters.