The Israeli government approved on Sunday Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked's (Jewish Home) plan to combat polygamy in Israel.
The plan includes appointing a special committee which will be in charge of dealing with the issue. The committee will be headed by Shaked and will include Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas), Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), Labor and Welfare Minister Haim Katz (Likud), Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (UTJ), and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home).
Bennett will submit to the committee within four months a curriculum on the subject of polygamy, as well as a plan for helping children of polygamous marriages handle the difficulties involved.
Katz will submit to the committee within four months a plan which will offer incentives to encourage Bedouin women to integrate themselves into the labor force.
The government will discuss making an amendment to Section 17 of the Guaranteed Income Law. The amendment would allow the National Insurance Institute to cut allowances to those who should be paying child support to a third party who is receiving monetary support from the NII.
Litzman will create a plan to raise public, government, and municipal awareness of the issue. In addition, he will create a plan for a program which will help victims of polygamy boost their self-esteem. The plan will also help victims gain the tools necessary to deal with the complex family and health issues which come as a result of being part of a polygamous family.
Representatives of relevant government offices and municipal and regional authorities will also be required to help the committee.
"We are taking another step forward in our war against polygamy. Not only is having multiple wives a criminal offense, it also harms the women and children involved, who are more likely to suffer negligence, depression, physical violence, and emotional distress.
"Women in polygamous relationships are often imported or bought from the Palestinian Authority, and this harms Bedouin women. The Bedouin families also gain an automatic connection to the Palestinian Authority and often Palestinian 'identity.' For this reason, dealing with polygamy must become a top priority.
"I believe that this multi-system solution, which includes among other things education and awareness programs, as well as making the punishment for polygamy more severe, will be enough to help us deal correctly with this issue. I hope we will soon reap the fruits of our labor," Shaked concluded.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, "This is an important process. We are enforcing the laws against illegal building, and enforcing the laws against polygamy is also critical."