The Regavim movement for protecting Israel's resources responded to the Justice Ministry's Inter-Ministerial Committee Report on Polygamy, released yesterday: "It is clear that the report publicized by the Ministry of Justice is the culmination of months of serious and intensive effort. The fact that this important issue has been brought to the fore and placed squarely on the public agenda is an important step in the right direction, and we commend the team that conducted the study and the chairperson of the committee.
"Regavim has been studying and monitoring the problem of polygamy for many years, and, as the introduction to the new report mentions, we met with the Director General of the Ministry of Justice, Attorney Emi Palmor, who headed the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Polygamy, for in-depth discussions and consultations.
"The report devotes several comprehensive and lengthy chapters to indirect methods of contending with the scourge of polygamy, including significant expenditures for education, social welfare, and employment initiatives in the Bedouin sector – despite the fact that the government's Five Year Plan for the Bedouin Sector devoted billions of shekels to these same areas. In contrast, the report has far less to say about confronting polygamy directly, through law enforcement and prosecution of polygamists.
"Adopting the study's recommendations in their present form, without making the adjustments necessary to create balance between the positive and the punitive treatment of polygamy, will turn the Inter-Ministerial Committee's mandate on its head: Rather than curtailing the practice of polygamy and its devastating effects, the State of Israel will find itself investing billions in effectively shoring up and entrenching the practice of polygamy and the illegal Bedouin settlements where polygamy is most widespread."
Regavim calls upon Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked to examine the foreseeable – and avoidable – outcomes of the Inter-Ministerial Committee's recommendations, including, among other things, the massive expenditures they call for. Indirect treatment of polygamy, in the form of educational and welfare initiatives mandated by the report, must be drastically limited, while law enforcement and prosecution of polygamists must be drastically and immediately increased."