‘Lapid Bill’ unlikely to pass

Proposal to enforce cooling-off period between journalism and politics lacks majority in committee.

January 10, 2012 03:43
2 minute read.
Knesset vote

Knesset 521. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The “Yair Lapid Bill” is unlikely to pass a vote in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Wednesday, only days after Lapid, a television personality, announced that he was leaving journalism for politics.

The “Lapid Bill,” also known as the “Cooling-Off Bill,” is actually two proposals, each requiring a break between a media career and running for the Knesset. Legislation drafted by MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) would require a year-long wait, while MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) suggested six months.

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If the bill is voted down, as expected, it will render Lapid’s move – leaving journalism over a year before the next official elections date – unnecessary, as he could have continued hosting Channel 2 News’ popular Friday-night news show without concern about his political career.

There is no coalition discipline for Wednesday’s vote.

Three coalition MKs, Danny Danon (Likud), Avraham Michaeli (Shas) and Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism), are expected to vote in favor of the bill. Committee member MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) was still undecided at press time. MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi), a former journalist, outspokenly opposes the legislation, and is expected to vote against it, despite being in the coalition.

Eight opposition MKs are expected to vote down the bill, including two from Kadima.

Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) vocally opposes the legislation, repeating to various media sources his assertion that pop star Justin Bieber has more influence than Yair Lapid, and there cannot be cooling-off periods for every career choice.

Regardless of his personal opinion, Rotem still plans to bring the bills to a vote in the committee on Wednesday, explaining that as long as Tirosh and Shama-Hacohen do not withdraw the bills, the meeting will take place.

Both Shama-Hacohen and Tirosh said they plan to bring their proposals to a vote in the committee, and each asserted that the bill is not directed against Lapid, the son of late Shinui leader Tommy Lapid, but rather against all journalists who have a platform to unfairly promote their own interests.

The Likud MK added that if anyone else in the committee changes his or her vote on the legislation, it’ll prove that that person was targeting Lapid.

MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) hinted in comments on the bill that Lapid’s announcement would change his vote, saying that the television reporter’s move to politics makes legislation requiring a cooling-off period for journalists “unnecessary.”

MK Doron Avital, the other Kadima member in the Constitution Committee, said that he would vote against Tirosh’s bill because he feels “uncomfortable with personal and retroactive bills” that could “harm the rules of the game.”

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