Fighting Violence Against Women: Support for Israel’s Signing of the Istanbul Convention

>> Click here to read the full position paper .Legal advice: Attorney Reut Gelblum

This position paper is submitted ahead of a government debate on Israel’s accession to the Istanbul Convention, following the welcome decision to promote the issue and place it on the government’s agenda. Zulat thus seeks to support Israel’s accession to the treaty, to register its deepest reservations about the arguments against such a move raised by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked in a letter published in the media, and to elaborate on the reasons for these reservations.

The war on gender-based violence is of the essence. Recently published data show that 122 women were murdered in Israel between 2016 and 2020, 40% of them by a partner or ex-partner; in 2020, women constituted 87% of the victims in the 20,326 cases of spousal violence lodged with the Israel Police; only one in five men with a pending police case was treated at a dedicated center, while 60% went untreated. The correct context for reading these data is the close connection between sexual and domestic violence and the inequality between men and women in terms of access to resources in the public sphere, in the labor market, and at home. At present, Israel is unable to advance a uniform policy to reduce gender-based violence or to coordinate among all the entities required to that end. Hence, the Istanbul Convention provides a framework, tools, and a basis for comparison for the effective promotion, implementation, and monitoring of such a policy.

We would like to offer counter-arguments to those presented by Minister Shaked, and show that the concerns raised in her letter are not only legally unfounded, but convey positions that are totally unsuitable to the formulation of a long-term policy for combating violence against women.

>> The Istanbul Convention website

>> “Israel Must Join the Istanbul Convention & the Commitment to Fight Gender Based Violence”, Zulat President Zehava Galon, Haaretz


Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.


Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.


Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.



Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.