Anti-parent bill meeting opposition in Knesset

Kulanu and Shas oppose the bill that would take away parental rights – but is it all part of a sophisticated scheme?

Gil Ronen ,

Children (file).
Children (file).
Hadas Parush / Flash 90

The radical bill that would take away Israeli parents' rights as the natural guardians over their children is meeting opposition in the Knesset.

The "Parents and their Children" bill – which was exposed exclusively by Arutz Sheva – would grant social workers the power to supervise in minute detail the values upon which parents educate their children, and to ask courts to take away their parental rights if they deem that the parents are not respectful enough of their children's rights, as they are defined by the bill.

This broad and vague "bill of rights" for children includes the right "to physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development and to develop their talents and personal abilities" as well as "the right to be educated to a life of responsibility in society and respect for the basic rights of all people regardless of race, sex, religion, nationality or origin."

In addition, the children will have the right "to freedom of thought, expression, conscience and religion" – raising the specter that parents might have to allow their children to adopt another religion should they so desire, or face legal action from the state for "violating" their children's rights.

Sources in the Justice Ministry told Arutz Sheva that both the Kulanu and the Shas factions have expressed their opposition to the bill.

However, they are not opposed to it because of any of the matters described above. Rather – they oppose the section of the bill that would cancel the so called Tender Years Presumption in the current law, which says that in divorce, children under six will be in their mothers' custody.

As part of a sophisticated ruse, it is this part of the bill that is presented as its main feature, while the disempowerment of parents is completely ignored and covered up.

The debate over the bill has thus turned into a fight between fathers' groups and women's groups over parental custody in divorce. Meanwhile, the Knesset's five leading feminist MKs (Shelly Yechimovich, Zehava Galon, Michal Rozin, Tamar Zandberg and Merav Michaeli) have submitted a bill that appears to be intended as a compromise between these two sides. It would instruct social workers to grant divorced fathers wider access to their children for a three-year experimental period, without abolishing the Tender Years Presumption. This could enable the bill to sail through, while leaving the public completely unaware of its main thrust until it is too late to do anything about it.

According to the bill's sponsors, Minister Gila Gamliel and MK Yoav Kisch of the Likud, the Justice Ministry is expected to submit its own version of the bill sometime within the next two months.