knesset full 248.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will no longer try to pass the controversial "Slomiansky law," or "mini-Norwegian law," due to the disloyalty of the Habayit Hayehudi faction, sources close to him said Tuesday.
The bill, which already passed its first reading, would allow one minister from each party in the coalition to resign from the Knesset in favor of the next name on each of their party's Knesset candidate list.
It was intended to give the coalition five additional active MKs to represent their parties in the Knesset after the appointment of 39 ministers and deputy ministers put the coalition at a disadvantage in advancing its parliamentary work.
But the real reason, it seems, that Netanyahu was pushing the bill and included it in the coalition agreement was that Habayit Hayehudi wanted to allow the fourth candidate on its list, former MK Nisan Slomiansky, to return to the Knesset. In return for pushing the bill, Habayit Hayehudi promised Netanyahu unswerving loyalty.
What doomed the bill was the behavior of Habayit Hayehudi's three MKs regarding Netanyahu's land reform bill. In the first reading of this bill, none of the three MKs voted in favor. In its final readings last week, only Habayit Hayehudi head Daniel Herschkowitz voted in favor, while MKs Zevulun Orlev and Uri Orbach voted against it.
A source close to Netanyahu said the Habayit Hayehudi MKs' behavior persuaded him that there was no point in enduring harsh public criticism for the expensive bill in return for promises of loyalty that would not be kept. Another source said Netanyahu's decision rewarded Herschkowitz, who would have had to quit the Knesset for Slomiansky, while punishing Orlev and Orbach.
"I don't know if it is final or if a particular decision has been made, but it is clear that we won't be pushing for it any time soon," coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) said, speaking from New York.
An official spokesman for Netanyahu would only say that "the matter was on the agenda in the previous Knesset term, and it will be reconsidered when the Knesset returns from its recess" in October, following the High Holy Days.
Knesset Law Committee chairman David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) said he was also not aware of a formal decision on the matter, but that he had not been pushed to advance the bill since technical disputes over its fate prevented a vote in his committee. One dispute centered on Rotem's request to have the bill amended to apply to all 39 ministers and deputy ministers and not just one minister from each party.
Sources close to Herschkowitz said he was not surprised by Netanyahu's decision and confirmed that it was connected to the votes of Orlev and Orbach. A Herschkowitz opponent in Habayit Hayehudi accused Netanyahu of breaking the coalition agreement and "buying Herschkowitz's vote" on the land reform bill by freezing the Slomiansky bill.
Slomiansky said it would be a mistake for Netanyahu to not advance the bill, because "he needs a stable coalition and not a weakened one, especially when Labor and Israel Beiteinu are so tenuous."
Had the bill passed, besides Slomiansky, two Ethiopian immigrants would have been able to enter the Knesset: Alali Adamso of Likud and Mazor Bayana of Shas. Israel Beiteinu's new MK would have been Kiryat Gat social worker Viktor Ifrahimov, and Labor's would have been Harvard-educated consultant Einat Wilf.
Adamso expressed disappointment that his chances of entering the Knesset had been significantly diminished. He said it was unfortunate that the Knesset would remain with only one Ethiopian MK: Shlomo Molla of Kadima.
"Passing the bill could have helped the interests of Ethiopian immigrants," Adamso said. "With three Ethiopian MKs, we could have really improved the socioeconomic situation and integration of our community. It's a real missed opportunity."
Wilf said she was not disappointed, because she was never convinced that the bill would pass, and there was no guarantee that if it did a Labor minister would be willing to leave the Knesset on her behalf. Had she entered the Knesset via the bill, she would have also been beholden to Labor chairman Ehud Barak, who could rescind the minister's resignation at any time to remove her from the Knesset.
"Even if it would have passed, it is not clear whether it would have been relevant to me," Wilf said. "Given the choice, I would rather get into the Knesset without a sword hanging over my head. Every time I'd misbehave, I could have been thrown out of the Knesset. Like everything in life, it will happen when the time is right."