The Knesset plenum approved this past Monday in a second and third reading the proposal authorizing Israeli rabbinical courts to hear cases involving agunos from all over the world even if they have no connection to Eretz Yisroel, so long as the original marriage took place according to halachic standards.
The bill is valid for three years, with the obligation to report to the Knesset those cases which were dealt with by the botei din applying this new authorization. The Opposition expressed its outspoken disagreement to this law because of their basic opposition to the buttressing of the status and activities of rabbinical courts, and staged a filibuster in the Knesset in order to hold up the passing of the law.
It should be noted that the bill was composed by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, the Conference of European Rabbis and the administration of rabbinical courts, with the help of Justice Minister and Knesset members, and was presented as a government bill.
The idea of such a law was first proposed at an assembly of the Conference of European Rabbis which took place in Berlin in 5773, with the participation of the Israeli Chief Rabbi. Two years ago, a private proposal was presented but it did not reach any practical stage. In the previous Knesset, the proposal was reworded and supported by 14 MKs from all parties, but the Foreign Ministry opposed its phrasing which accorded the right of ruling for citizens from abroad, a situation which was liable to be a dangerous precedent to security services for Israelis in Europe.
The current bill was a result of a meeting between the nosi of the Conference of European Rabbis, HaRav Pinchas Goldschmidt, and justice minister Ayelet Shaked, at which it was decided on a new formulation of the law and that it would be presented as a government-backed proposal.