Ma'an News Agency
August 24, 2012 - 12:00am

Religious authorities in the West Bank failed to consult their counterparts in the Gaza Strip over proposed changes to divorce laws, the head of Islamic courts in Gaza said Thursday.

The chief Islamic judge in the West Bank Sheikh Yusef Ideis announced Thursday that the Islamic supreme court would meet Monday to discuss a new law granting women the right to initiate divorce.

The law will come into effect in September, Ideis said in a statement.

But the head of Islamic courts in Gaza Hassan al-Juju told Ma'an there had been no coordination on the new law. "No one consulted us on this issue."

Al-Juju said Islamic authorities in Gaza would be happy to study the new law if it was discussed with them, but as they had not been consulted it would only apply in the West Bank.

He added that personal status laws should be unified across the West Bank and Gaza.

Meanwhile, member of the Secretariat of the General Union of Palestinian Women Khawla al-Azraq welcomed the reform which she said would protect women suffering from domestic violence.

The new law follows a rise in incidents in which women were killed by their relatives and husbands in the West Bank, al-Azraq noted.

She told Ma'an that rights campaigners were waiting for the Palestinian Authority to adopt a new set of personal status laws, drafted by women's groups, to protect women from domestic violence.

Laws in the West Bank and Gaza are drawn from several legal systems as a result of various foreign occupations. Jordanian law is applied in the West Bank, and Egyptian laws are in force in Gaza.

Both legislative systems discriminate against women, allowing men to divorce far more easily than women.

Efforts to unify the legislative framework and enact Palestinian laws have been hampered by Israel's occupation and detention of lawmakers, and the internal division which led to separate governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.


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