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Israel bans hundreds of thousands from marrying

Quarter of a million Israelis cannot marry or get a divorce

More than 280,000 Israeli citizens cannot marry or divorce in Israel because they do not belong to a legally recognized religious group, according to figures presented Monday to the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee.

Israeli law does not recognize civil marriage, and requires citizens to be married by their own clergy. Religious groups were determined during the Turkish period, which ended in 1917.

The Central Bureau of Statistics says that at the end of 2003, some 254,000 citizens were listed as "lacking religious classification," and about 27,000 as "Christians who are not Arab."

About 60,000 of these individuals are children under the age of 14. Some 78 percent of these groups, or 219,000, are natives of the former Soviet Union, who came to live in Israel by virtue of the Law of Return; 3 percent are Ethiopian; and 2 percent were born in Romania.

MK Yosef Paritzky (Shinui), who had called for the discussion on this issue, called it "crazy" that the state does not permit a quarter of a million people to marry and divorce, and Committee chair Colette Avital (Labor) called the situation "a time bomb."

The committee also heard Monday that in 2002, 1,585 Israeli citizens lacking religious classification married abroad - 780 men and 805 women. In the main age group of Israelis marrying, age 20 to 32, the number of people lacking religious classification is about 83,000.


Haaretz, "Quarter of a million Israelis cannot marry or get a divorce", 17 May 2005.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 17 May 2005.

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Tags: Israel, discrimination, married, divorced, marry, divorce, Israeli, citizens, law, prevents, racism, ethnic cleansing, , conspiracy theories.

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