Health Minister Yael German
Health Minister Yael German Flash 90

The Knesset approved on Monday evening the first reading of the controversial “surrogacy law”, which was authored by Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid).

45 MKs voted in favor and 15 voted against the bill, which seeks to extend the eligibility for surrogacy so that same-sex couples as well as men and women without partners will be able to perform the procedure in Israel.

German welcomed the approval of the law’s first reading, writing on Facebook, “This is a day which brings with it good news, in which we were able to bring about equality between people and allow anyone who wants to have a family.”

Yesh Atid chairman, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, welcomed the passing of the bill as well.

"Today we made a significant step on the way to enabling thousands of same-sex couples and childless couples to fulfill one of the most natural things - to raise a child and start a family. Everyone has the right to be a parent," he said.

Members of the Jewish Home were outraged at the approval of the bill, which Housing Minister Uri Ariel tried to stop by filing an appeal so that it would not go to the Cabinet for approval. Instead, the bill was put to a vote to the Knesset, and Jewish Home members were given permission to vote against it, despite it being backed by the government.

MK Yoni Chetboun said, “The suggested bill would take us into serious halakhic doubts - of illegitimate children, of doubts regarding a person’s Judaism. This law will split society, people will not be able to get married. Are we going to take apart an entire society for the will of individual people?”

The surrogacy bill, he warned, “will open a market here. The surrogacy law is a declaration regarding the opening of a new trade zone in Israel's public sphere - a children's market - you pay, you receive. Today it's ‘children for sale’, tomorrow it will be ‘children for rent’. It is not a surrogacy law, it’s a surrogacy market.”

MK Motti Yogev, also from the Jewish Home, criticized the law as well, saying it “goes against human nature, a law which corrupts society and affects the children that will be born in this framework. A family is a mother, father and children. Any other family is a crippled family.”

"A child is not a pet and even a pet had a father and a mother. A child needs a father and a mother in order to be conceived, be born and grow up and receive warmth and love, lifestyle and values​​, from his father and mother. This is a natural family, this is the way of the Torah of Israel and the Israeli people. There are exceptions, but it is not right to give them a seal of approval by law,” added Yogev.

Also speaking out against the law was MK Orit Struk, who said, “The surrogacy law states that everyone is family. A woman is a family, a man is a family, two women are a family, two men are family."

"The law is the continuation of a series of laws by the members of Yesh Atid who are attempting in any way possible to dismantle the Jewish values ​​of the State of Israel. Minister Yael German’s statement that everyone has the right to parenthood is a moral deformity, the culmination of egoism. The opposite is the true: every child has a right to a normal family,” she added.

The issue of gay marriages and rights has been one of many points of contention between Jewish Home and Yesh Atid, two parties which disagree on a host of issues but which formed a pact after last year’s election to join the coalition together.

MK Adi Kol of Yesh Atid has been trying to legislate civil marriage in Israel. She also initiated a bill to give same-sex couples equal tax breaks, a bill which Jewish Home initially opposed but eventually compromised on by not having the bill give same-sex couples official recognition, thereby sparing Jewish Home from being perceived as officially supporting gay marriage.

Jewish Home, as well as Likud Beytenu, drew criticism for failing to vote against the bill, which passed; Bennett voted for the bill while the rest of Jewish Home abstained.