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Israeli parties come to compromise to allow equal tax breaks for same-sex parents

Israel’s centrist Yesh Atid party and religious conservative Bayit Yehudi party have come to a compromise to allow same-sex parents to enjoy the same tax benefits as heterosexual couples with children – with the issue likely to be solved by Ministerial regulation rather than enshrined in law
The Israeli Knesset
Photo by Beny Shlevich

Israel’s Yesh Atid party, which has been pushing for same-sex couples with children to have access to the same tax benefits as heterosexual families, has struck a deal to move forward with the reform with the religious Bayit Yehudi party who have been threatening to veto any bill – announcing and end to the deadlock on Tuesday.

However the details of the compromise have been kept secret – angering left wing parties in the Israeli opposition who refused to vote for a draft bill Yesh Atid had put before the parliament to resolve the issue.

Without most of the opposition voting, the bill passed 44-20 in a vote in the Knesset on Wednesday – with three Bayit Yehudi lawmakers voting in favor of it.

Reports in the Israeli media suggest the two parties have reached an agreement where both get to save face with their supporters.

It has been suggested that Yesh Atid will shelve plans to recognize same-sex relationships in legislation and that in exchange Bayit Yehudi will allow the Finance Ministry to approve regulations ensuring all families with children have access to the same tax benefits regardless of the gender of their parents.

This would allow Yesh Atid to claim responsibility for the regulatory reform, while Bayit Yehudi could tell its supporters it prevented the equal treatment of same-sex couples from being enshrined in a parliamentary law.

However Yesh Atid are still moving forward with a civil unions bill which Bayit Yehudi have said they will absolutely veto under the terms of their coalition deal with Yesh Atid and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party in order for them to form government.

‘This bill wasn’t supposed to become the flagship of gay-couple recognition, but to ease the distress of a few dozen couples discriminated against by the state,’ a source from within Yesh Atid told Haaretz on Tuesday.

‘We conduct major battles on major issues. Yesh Atid is advancing the civil union law that would recognize gay couples for the first time, and we’ll be bringing that through the front gate, not the back door.’

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