Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon, in a strongly worded letter Tuesday, fiercely
criticized the electoral reform proposal that Knesset Law Committee chairman
David Rotem (Likud Beytenu) is expected to pass in a preliminary reading in the
Knesset on Wednesday.
Rotem’s bill would increase the electoral threshold
to four percent, limit the number of ministers including the prime minister to
19 and extend the amount of time a new government has to pass a budget from 45
to 100 days. The bill would require no-confidence motions to be submitted by at
least 61 MKs who agree on an alternative candidate for prime minister.
that candidate were to be unable to form a government, the Knesset would not be
If the bill passes in its preliminary reading, Likud Beytenu’s
coalition partners intend to veto and remove key clauses in the bill before it
is passed into law. Yesh Atid will hold a conference with electoral reform
organizations on Wednesday to determine how best to change the
Labor MK Hilik Bar wrote Yinon asking whether Rotem’s bill was
In his response to Bar, Yinon wrote that he could not
prevent the bill’s advancement but that he would send a letter to all MKs asking
them to be more careful with controversial legislation.
“There is no
illegality in the proposal because the Knesset is permitted in principle to
change Basic Laws and the rules of the game,” Yinon wrote.
is important that Knesset members understand the implications and ramifications
of the changes they propose and carefully consider such electoral
Regarding the requirement of 61 MKs to submit no-confidence
motions, Yinon wrote that it was wrong to change the rules of the game
immediately with the current Knesset so the bill should not take effect until
the next Knesset if it passes.
He also suggested giving the opposition a
new way to express itself other than no-confidence motions.
“The result of
the legislation would be the cancellation of the institution of no-confidence
motions as the central platform for deliberations and government criticism and
the central tool of the opposition to obtain the public’s attention on issues,”
“The proposal lacks an effective alternative to compensate
the opposition for losing such an important parliamentary tool.”
said the change would violate the principle of the government requiring the
Knesset’s confidence. He also criticized the proposal for canceling the role of
the president in dispersing the Knesset, writing that such a change would enable
prime ministers to advance elections to a time that would be convenient for them
Bar said MKs should see Yinon’s letter to him as a warning
not to vote for the bill on Wednesday. He called upon the coalition to
immediately backtrack from the bill and instead begin a serious process of
considering change in the electoral system that would not cause significant harm
to Israeli democracy.
Rotem wrote Yinon expressing outrage over the
letter. He said it was wrong of Yinon to question MKs’ understanding of the
ramifications of the bills they propose.
“Submitting your legal opinion
to all the MKs before they vote is improper interference in the legislative work
of the Knesset,” Rotem wrote.
“I wonder why even though I have been an MK
since 2007, I have never received a legal opinion from you about the need to
understand bills legislated by the Knesset.”