Bill allowing MKs to quit Knesset set to be passed today

Netanyahu agrees to apply legislation to Likud

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
July 29, 2015 01:23
2 minute read.
The Knesset

The Knesset building in Givat Ram, Jerusalem. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Knesset is to vote Wednesday on the controversial Norwegian Law, which would allow a minister or deputy minister from each coalition party to quit the Knesset and return if they leave the cabinet.

The Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee passed it late Tuesday, enabling the bill’s legislation to be finalized before the Knesset begins its extended summer recess at the conclusion of Wednesday night’s Knesset session. However, the opposition vowed to filibuster, which could delay the bill’s passage to Thursday.

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The bill was initially supposed to apply to factions of 12 or fewer members. But an amendment passed unanimously in the committee on Tuesday that would allow three ministers in Likud to quit the Knesset and return if they leave the cabinet.

As a result, the next three candidates on the Likud list would be able to enter the Knesset: Canadian-born, Australian-educated Sharren Haskel, gay activist Amir Ohana, and Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick, who was born in the United States. The amendment was supported by left-wing MKs, including Michal Rozin of Meretz and Yael German from Yesh Atid, who wanted to embarrass Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposed the amendment. Ohana was present in the meeting and encouraged Likud MKs to vote in favor of the amendment.

But hours later, at Netanyahu’s request, the committee changed the amount of ministers in Likud who could quit to one. That means only Haskel would enter the Knesset unless another minister quits to take another job. The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew sister publication, Maariv, reported Tuesday that Netanyahu is considering giving the UN ambassadorship to former MK Einat Wilf.

The bill is to be passed as an “emergency ordinance,” meaning it would only apply to the current Knesset.

Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett was quoted saying in closed conversations that he would resign from the parliament in favor of the next name on the Bayit Yehudi list, former MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli. Shas leader Arye Deri has publicly committed to quit the Knesset in favor of the next name on his list, former MK Avraham Michaeli, if the bill passes.

In United Torah Judaism, former MK Ya’acov Asher would return. In Kulanu, former Kadima MK Akram Hasson, who is a Druse, would enter the Knesset.

Opposition MKs pointed out that each additional member of Knesset who joins would cost tax payers NIS 1.7 million. 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 bal - lot. 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


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