The Ministerial Legislation Committee on Sunday endorsed two United Torah Judaism bills that overturn earlier rulings of the High Court of Justice: MK Moshe Gafni‘s Chametz Law banning chametz from being brought into hospitals on Passover; and the Rabbinic Arbitration Law that empowers the rabbinic courts to act as arbitrators with the consent of the parties.
The committee also endorses the establishment of a Committee on Burial Matters to be headed by UTJ Chairman, Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf, to take care of field burials near communities that are seeking it.
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara announced on Sunday in an opinion she submitted to the Justice Minister that she opposes the chametz bill on the grounds that it “raises considerable constitutional difficulties.” She called on the coalition to find more moderate alternative solutions to avoid harming people’s fundamental rights.
Three years ago, the High Court of Justice ruled that hospital security guards cannot prevent the introduction of chametz into hospital premises. Gafni’s bill seeks to return the situation to where it was before the ruling and establish that medical institutions that present themselves as kosher will be prohibited from introducing chametz during Passover.
According to the bill being co-sponsored by MKs Moshe Gafni, Yaakov Asher, and Yitzchak Pindrus of UTJ, the hospital manager will be entitled to authorize an employee to prevent the introduction or possession of food contrary to the instructions over the holiday.
The explanatory notes accompanying the bill say the status quo regarding the non-inclusion of chametz in hospitals was violated by the High Court’s 2020 ruling: “The High Court ruled in a majority opinion that hospitals do not have the authority by law to prohibit the introduction of chametz,” the document reads. “The meaning of this ruling is that the majority of citizens of the State of Israel who keep kosher on Passover will not be able to receive medical treatment or be hospitalized during Passover.”
The bill stresses that the provision would not apply to hospitals “in the non-Jewish sector.”
The High Court of Justice ruled 17 years ago, in a panel headed by Justice Ayala Procaccia, that the rabbinic courts cannot rely on the Arbitration Law to seek the consent of parties for arbitration in civil matters, because this power was not enshrined in legislation. The UTJ bill provides the missing legislation.
The AG’s office opposes this bill as well and expressed concern that the current wording of the bill would lead to applying pressure on one of the sides to agree to rabbinic arbitration.
And, naturally, a representative of the Anti-Orthodox Falange, a.k.a. Israel Beiteinu, MK Yulia Malinovsky, responded: “Today, Gafni’s bill that will strengthen the rabbinical courts by allowing them to rule on civil issues is being submitted to the Ministerial Legislative Committee – concurrent with the government weakening the judicial system. From here on, the road is paved to a halachic state.”