In a vote held on Thursday morning, the Rabbinical Judges Bill did not pass its second and third readings in the Knesset.
Following a lengthy debate, and after all the reservations to the bill were rejected, a 51-51 tie was recorded in the third reading of the bill, as Knesset Speaker MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) mistakenly voted against the bill instead of in favor. After receiving legal counseling, the Speaker of the Knesset said: “In light of the fact that the vote cannot be changed—my vote—and there was no majority in the vote on the third reading, the bill did not pass its third reading. The Legal Department will examine the ramifications of the 51-51 result; as of now, the bill did not pass.”
The bill proposes that the Rabbinical Judges Selection Committee will include 13 members: The two Chief Rabbis of Israel; two judges from the Great Rabbinical Court, in which the panel of judges will be appointed for three years; according to the amendment approved, the government will have three representatives in the committee (instead of two today): the Justice Minister (who can be replaced by the government with another minister, with his consent), the Religious Services Minister, and another member of the Government that it will appoint; two MKs; two attorneys, who will be appointed by the National Council of the Israel Bar Association for three years; and according to the amendment approved, two women rabbinical court advocates will serve on the committee (instead of one woman rabbinical court advocate today), one of whom will be chosen by the Justice Minister and the other by the Religious Services Minister, within three months of the inauguration of a new government.
The bill also includes various transitional provisions, including a provision determining that the term of the woman rabbinical court advocate appointed before the passing of this law, will end within a year from the law’s entry into force. Upon the end of her term, the Religious Services Minister will appoint a woman rabbinical court advocate in her stead.
After the vote fell, Chairman of United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said: “I kept saying that a government that has been fraudulently formed and signs coalition agreements that are against the Torah and halachah does not have siyatta d’iShmaya.”
This ended the most embarrassing day for the coalition:
- The Basic Law was pulled down, due to the absence of a majority.
- The Cannabis Law wasn’t raised, due to the opposition of Ra’am.
- And the only serious law that was certain to pass, the Dayanim Law, also didn’t pass because the Knesset Speaker got confused in the vote.