THE CURRENT Knesset has been accused of advancing numerous anti-democratic bills..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The coalition took punitive action against the opposition for stopping a filibuster before it began on Wednesday, while MKs were at the funeral of a man killed by Palestinian terrorists the previous night.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, the minister responsible for liaison between the government and the Knesset, announced that the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which Shaked leads, will not put opposition bills on its agenda. Bills that are not approved by the ministerial committee rarely pass even a preliminary vote.
“The opposition’s behavior today crossed all the lines of good taste,” Levin said, “when in an insensitive and inhumane move they chose to take advantage of the participation of ministers and MKs in the funeral of the terrorism victim Rabbi Raziel Shevach to try to disrupt legislation in the Knesset plenum.
“I hope the step we’re taking today will lead them to return to reasonable and respectful behavior in the Knesset,” Levin stated.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Knesset prepared for another all-nighter, with the opposition having planned a filibuster that included 24 hours of speeches against a bill to give MK Ya’acov Litzman the authority of a minister if he returned to being deputy health minister, which required 61 votes to pass.
However, opposition coordinator Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) withdrew all of the speeches just as the debate began, surprising the coalition, and leaving its members scrambling to get enough votes.
At that time, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and MK Bezalel Smotrich, all of Bayit Yehudi, were at the funeral of Shevach in the Havat Gilad outpost.
Hasson denied that he planned the surprise to be during the funeral, saying he simply noticed on the board that is hanging outside the plenum that many coalition MKs were absent.
However, Hasson retweeted a tweet mentioning the funeral, and Shirit Avital Cohen of Makor Rishon reported overhearing Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah saying that the coalition did not have enough votes because of the funeral.
Shaked said the opposition ought to behave “more humanely in light of the terrorist attack. The inhumanity the opposition showed today is the straw that broke the camel’s back, after they shamed the Knesset in the past two weeks while they ran to the High Court of Justice against laws the Knesset passed.
“I won’t allow a situation in which the opposition does its parliamentary job and filibusters for entire days, only to run to the High Court,” she added. “The opposition needs to decide if it wants to be on the path of legislation or of circumventing the Knesset. We can’t accept parties petitioning the court against laws while trying to promote them in the Knesset.”
Hasson said Shaked and Levin were taking advantage of a terrorist attack for the coalition’s political needs, and that the coalition forgot it is supposed to serve the public.
“Shaked already said two weeks ago that she wants to stop all discussion of opposition bills,” Hasson argued. “It doesn’t deter or scare us. It’s just further proof that the coalition lost its commitment to the basic rules of democracy. The government is trying to undemocratically restrict the opposition.”
All-night votes have become a weekly event in the Knesset of late, with the opposition keeping the coalition up through the night with long hours of speeches and many proposed changes to bills to vote on. Wednesday’s expected overnight plenum meeting would have been the second this week.
During the filibusters, the opposition kept a strict no-offsetting policy, discarding the Knesset tradition of an opposition MK skipping votes to offset the absence of a coalition MK, and vice versa, who could not vote due to unavoidable personal issues or reasons of state.
During that time, Religious Services Minister David Azoulay of Shas was hospitalized, and Likud MK Yehudah Glick’s wife, Bayit Yehudi MK Motti Yogev’s mother and, in the opposition, Zionist Union MK Yossi Yonah’s brother died. Interior Minister Arye Deri, the chairman of Shas, attempted to get Azoulay and Glick to vote, anyway.
This week, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation only voted on one bill, because of coalition infighting, and not because of the opposition’s behavior.