Kadima uses technicalities to filibuster ‘Grunis Bill'

MK Yoel Hasson, citing parliamentary rules, shifts legislation to new committee, delaying vote.

November 24, 2011 02:27
2 minute read.
MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima)

MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima) 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

More obstacles were set for the “Grunis Bill” on Wednesday, as Kadima MKs used technicalities in the Knesset’s regulations to delay any voting on the proposed legislation.

The bill, which passed in its first reading last week, is meant to reduce the minimum tenure for a Supreme Court justice from three to two years, reversing an order from 2007 by then-justice minister Daniel Friedmann.

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However, in a Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee meeting, National Union leader Ya’acov Katz, who proposed the bill, requested that it also apply to district and magistrate’s courts, causing an uproar in the opposition, who successfully filibustered the discussion.

Katz’s initiative is known as the “Grunis Bill,” because it would allow Supreme Court Justice Asher Dan Grunis, an opponent of judicial activism, to replace Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch when she retires at age 70 in February.

Following the National Union MK’s suggestion, MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) demanded, at about 10:20 a.m., that discussion of the bill be moved to the Knesset House Committee, which decides which bills are prepared in which Knesset committees.

Hasson explained his request, saying that the “Grunis Bill” had been expanded to include new topics, and according to Knesset regulations, a new topic must be assigned a new committee meeting.

A meeting was called for 10:45, 15 minutes before Wednesday’s plenum meeting began.

At 11, Hasson told substitute Knesset House Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) that the meeting must be stopped, because Knesset protocol demands special permission from the Knesset speaker to allow committees to hold discussions during plenum meetings.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin authorized the committee meeting’s continuation until voting was due to begin, and no final decisions were made in time.

The committee was ready to vote on whether the change to the bill can be discussed in the constitution, law and justice committee or not, when MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima), asked for it to be stopped for a few minutes.

Molla explained that he is a member of the house committee, but is also scheduled to ask a parliamentary question, and Elkin acquiesced to his request.

By the time Molla returned, voting on bills had begun in the plenum, which meant that, according to Rivlin’s previous statement, the committee vote could not take place.

Had Katz successfully added his idea to the bill, it would have been brought to its second and final third readings in the plenum on Monday.

However, Kadima’s maneuver delayed the bill’s preparation in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee to next week, which makes the final votes on the “Grunis Bill” likely to occur in two weeks.

“Kadima will continue to fight all of the Netanyahu government’s last-minute tricks, which undermine Israeli democracy,” a party spokesman said in reference to the morning’s events.

Katz opined that “Kadima is fulfilling its commitment to its voters, and making a mess for the Likud. Even if it’s just a procedural mess that delays the vote by a week – it’s still a mess.”

“The bill will pass anyway,” he said. “A moral bill like this can’t be stopped.”

Elkin and the Likud declined to comment.

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