An Israeli businessman who refused to give his wife a ‘get’, leaving her an agunah, traveled to Thailand and did not return for six years, fearing he would be arrested upon his return. After all efforts to compel him to give a ‘get’ failed, he was given two options: release the woman from being an agunah or your passport will be revoked and you will have to remain in Thailand; or come home to be arrested.
The man, who signed a divorce agreement, fled to Bangkok, Thailand before the actually giving of the ‘get’ to his wife. The sanctions levied against him did not persuade him to give the ‘get’ either. The revocation of his passport however did get his attention.
The last appearance was scheduled a few months ago, but the husband preferred not to show. Shluchim were sent by the Chief Rabbinate who spoke with him in Thailand, along with local rabbonim, once again trying to persuade him to give his wife a ‘get’. His bank account was frozen, and his driver’s license canceled, but even these measures did not break him, as he continued to refuse to give his wife a ‘get’.
Attorney Ilana Leibowitz, representing the agunah, asked to cancel any and all assistance he might receive from an Israeli consulate/embassy in any country. The Tel Aviv Rabbanut Beis Din accepted the request, ordering the Foreign Ministry to blacklist him in all countries until he gives his wife a ‘get’.
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The Foreign Ministry released a directive to all its embassies and consulates not to provide the husband with any services. The beis din then asked to have the Bangkok Embassy summon the man to come and to confiscate his passport upon arrival. The husband arrived a few days later asking to extend his stay in Thailand and it was then he realized he cannot receive any consular services. In addition, officials confiscated his passport and explained the possibilities offered to him; to remain in Thailand without any possibility of leaving, with the exception of flying home to Israel to be arrested, or to give a ‘get’ and release his wife from being an agunah.
The husband was informed he had 45 days to decide, at which time his passport would be returned to the Interior Ministry, and he would be stranded in Thailand. Alternatively, he could use the one-time travel pass to board a plane for Israel and be arrested upon arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport. The husband then agreed to give the ‘get’ and release his wife.
It is pointed out that he did not pay child support during the six-year period. Attorney Leibowitz praised the actions of the beis din, which finally compelled the husband to give a ‘get’.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)