Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government cleared a major hurdle in advancing its agenda Monday morning when its electoral reform plan passed in the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.
Opposition MKs tried in vain to filibuster as committee chairman David Rotem pushed through a marathon voting session. In under an hour, some 150 amendments were voted down and the two halves of the bill passed, nearly all by votes of seven to six along coalition- opposition lines.
“The Knesset members didn’t even know what they were voting on,” Hadash MK Dov Henin complained. “This is not how you pass electoral reforms and Basic Laws.”
The legislation is expected to be passed into law in the Knesset plenum next week along with the government’s two other flagship bills on haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conscription and enabling a referendum on withdrawing from land inside pre-1967 Israel.
The bill, which is sponsored by MKs Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) and David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu), would raise the electoral threshold from 2 to 3.25 percent, which would likely result in the Knesset’s smallest faction going up from two to four MKs.
According to the bill, the number of ministers would be limited to 19, none of whom will be ministers-without-portfolio, and there will be no more than four deputy ministers.
Ministers will only be in charge of one ministry. Instead of weekly motions of no-confidence in the government, they will be monthly and the prime minister will have to be present.
Yisrael Beytenu and Yesh Atid both declared victory after the vote. Hoffman said the Knesset would function better when there will be fewer ministers and more full-time MKs.
“We are finally reaching the finish line in our effort to reform the electoral system,” Hoffman said. “After too many years of wasteful governments, we are ensuring that our future governments will be smaller and much more effective.”