Following several supreme court petitions on the subject, a first court ruling was issued at the end of last week in an appeal of a private case. The Israeli central district court decided: “Zoom weddings” (or Utah weddings) to be registered in Israel like any other valid wedding done abroad.
Another blow to PIBA in their apparent “attempt” to deny rights from couples who can’t or won’t marry in Israel.
Judge Efrat Pink of the central district court decided the following:
1. The public certificate on behalf of the State of Utah presented to the State Registrar of PIBA was valid and reliable and therefore, they had to register the couple (according to the Punk-Schlesinger rule of the Supreme Court).
2. The decision on the question of where the ceremony was held (Israel or Utah) is not within the authority of PIBA clerk.
3. Principle of equality: Due to the precedent that some couples have already registered in this way.
PIBA can still appeal this decision to the supreme court. If the supreme court decides that PIBA must register those marriages like any other marriage abroad – this will become a precedent and PIBA will have to act accordingly in the future, meaning to register people who married via “Zoom wedding” as “married”.
This is a big step in the right direction, but the option for civil marriage in Israel must still remain a top priority for lawmakers, especially when it comes to interfaith couples – whose marriage is not recognized by the religious authority anyway. It is also worth pointing out that the verdict only discusses the registration question, and not the “validity” of the marriage in Israel, i.e. the question whether the couple is actually married in the fundamental sense, in a way that rights and obligations of a married couple are applicable to them. This question though is more important in the case of separation.
It’s important to note that the verdict was given for a case of two Israeli citizens (who aren’t members of the same religion and therefore cannot marry in Israel), and not an international couple.
In case of international couples (Israeli + Non Israeli), who are looking to get a status in Israel based on the marriage, there are complicated implications that PIBA has yet to decide on.
But I would not get too excited. We can get a “glimpse” with what happened with the previous similar precedent of proxy marriages done in El Salvador (the couple stays in Israel, and a representative goes to wed them in El Salvador on their behalf).
Those marriages, like Utah marriages, will be registered in the Israeli registry upon presentation of a valid marriage certificate. But, if you check procedure 5.2.0009, you can see that couples who married in an “El Salvador wedding”, are facing a gradual process that consists of 2 full years on B1 visa, and not up to 6 months like couples who married in the common way.
It is likely that PIBA will update the procedures to clarify that Zoom marriages “lead” to the same special timeline as El Salvador marriages.