Bennett mulls giving up Knesset seat

Bennett was quoted saying in closed conversations that if the Knesset passes the so-called mini-Norwegian law, he would resign from the parliament in favor of the next name on the Bayit Yehudi list.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
July 28, 2015 01:35
2 minute read.
Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Just two years after he entered the Knesset with great fanfare, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett is considering quitting the parliament as early as Wednesday, sources in the party said Monday.

Bennett was quoted saying in closed conversations that if the Knesset passes the so-called mini-Norwegian law, he would resign from the parliament in favor of the next name on the Bayit Yehudi list, former MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli.

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The bill would enable a minister or deputy minister from each coalition party except the Likud to quit the Knesset, but return if they leave the cabinet.

Shas leader Arye Deri has committed publicly to quit the Knesset in favor of the next name on his list, former MK Avraham Michaeli, if the bill passes, but Bennett has not made a public commitment yet.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has also offered to quit for Moalem-Refaeli. It is still unclear which MKs in United Torah Judaism and Kulanu would quit.

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee is set to vote on the bill Tuesday morning, in an effort to have the plenum pass it into law by Wednesday night, when the Knesset will begin its extended summer recess.

The opposition has presented dozens of possible amendments to the bill in an effort to filibuster and perhaps delay the legislation. The main problems presented by the opposition are that it is intended to provide jobs to four specific people and that it would be implemented immediately rather than wait for the next Knesset.

“We will keep the MKs and press here for hours to stop this bill,” vowed Zionist Union faction head Merav Michaeli.

“The government is trying to expedite the bill in a way that is neither serious nor responsible. This bill is corrupt, and calling it Norwegian will not give it blonde hair and blue eyes to make it look better.”

Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson told the Law Committee that there needs to be true separation of powers. He said for that to happen, every minister would have to quit the cabinet.

There also remains a question of whether the bill would be applied to the Likud at the last moment. Netanyahu has expressed opposition in closed conversations, but Likud MKs on the Law Committee are in favor.

The next name on the Likud list is Canadian-born, Australian-educated Sharren Haskel. Likud MK David Amsalem said he wants the ruling party to be allowed to have two ministers quit the Knesset. The next name on the Likud list after Haskel is gay activist Amir Ohana.

Once it is brought to a vote, the bill is expected to pass easily, because it has the support of the coalition and the six Yisrael Beytenu MKs.

The “Norwegian Law,” based on the model of the Scandinavian country’s government, requires each minister to be replaced in the legislature by a candidate from his or her party’s ballot. If the minister is fired or resigns, he or she would reclaim a place in the Knesset and the substitute would no longer be a lawmaker.

The bill is meant to increase separation of powers, changing the current situation in which about a third of MKs cannot fully function as parliamentarians, because they are ministers or deputy ministers, and a central part of a lawmaker’s job is to oversee the executive branch of government.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.


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