Meretz Party head Zahava Gal-On 370.
(photo credit: ben hartman)
Yesh Atid’s far-reaching electoral reform bill passed a preliminary Knesset
reading on Wednesday, with opposition MKs warning it would endanger
The legislation, proposed by MK Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid),
calls for limiting the number of ministers to 18, who can each hold just one
portfolio, and capping the number of deputy ministers at four. The bill would
raise the minimum number of MKs required to pass a no-confidence motion from 61
to 65 and increase the electoral threshold from 2 percent to 4%.
last 15 years, every two-and-ahalf years on average, the government spends a
billion shekels on elections and elected officials stop working for the public
and work for themselves,” Hoffman said.
“We have had 12 health ministers
in the past 15 years. How can we run a country like this? This bill is
Almost every opposition MK attended the debate on the bill and
interrupted Hoffman and Cohen throughout their speeches, shouting and calling
the proposal anti-democratic.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On led the cries
of protest, saying several times that Hoffman should be ashamed of his proposal
and that he is trying to remove Arab MKs from the Knesset.
Social Services Minister Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) defended the bill from those who
claimed its change in the electoral threshold seeks to remove Arab parties from
the Knesset, saying “you can’t always take things to such dark
Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev interrupted incredulously: “You think
you’re democratic? That this is new politics?” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein
only allowed Labor faction chairman Isaac Herzog to take the stand and speak for
the opposition, because he was quiet during Hoffman and Cohen’s
Herzog warned Hoffman that he too will be hurt by the electoral
reform bill, because one day he will be in the opposition.
“We will fight
this law with all the parliamentary tools we have!” Herzog
“Democracy and the Knesset’s dignity are important to all of us.”
The Labor MK called the bill dangerous and warned that Yisrael Beytenu’s
electoral reform legislation is just as bad.
demonstratively walked out when the Knesset marked 73 years since Likud
ideological forebear Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s death, shouting comments like “what
would Jabotinsky say about this anti-democratic bill?” Yacimovich opened her
speech on Jabotinsky by saying she is disappointed that Justice Minister Tzipi
Livni would allow such a bill to stand.
“I understand that there’s a
competition between Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beytenu, two non-democratic parties,
but I would expect that you, Justice Minister Livni, would express your
opinion,” she stated.
The Labor leader also criticized Edelstein for
trying to “educate” MKs, not allowing opposition lawmakers to speak and only
calling up Herzog.
“What is this, a prize for good behavior?” she asked.
“Interrupting is part of our parliamentary work. I ask and beg you as the
speaker of this house to be democratic as Jabotinsky wrote.”
responded to Yacimovich on Facebook, explaining that several coalition parties
plan to submit electoral reform bills that will be passed by the Knesset in
preliminary readings, after which they will be combined via Knesset committees.
The justice minister said her voice will be heard in that committee, after
Hatnua proposes its own electoral reform.
So far, only Yisrael Beytenu
and Yesh Atid have submitted bills.
“I heard Yacimovich’s speech,” Livni
wrote. “It’s her job to criticize. It’s true that there may be coalitions where
it’s easier to promote peace, equality and social issues, but the current
government was formed partially by Yacimovich who refused to join it. I respect
her decision, but her speech was disrespectful.”
Earlier Wednesday, the
Knesset prepared for its first reading a bill by coalition chairman Yariv Levin
(Likud Beytenu) that limits the presidential election and that of the state
comptroller to only two rounds. Only the two candidates that received the most
votes in the first round will continue on to the second. Currently, three rounds
of voting are permitted.
“This change will ensure a more dignified
process,” said Levin. “Three rounds means that the decision is usually pushed
off to the third round and the dignity of the person who is elected is harmed,
since the Knesset took so long to approve him.”