Controversial camera bill fails to pass Knesset committee, won't become law

Yisrael Beytenu leader Liberman said his party would not support the current version of law, and accused Netanyahu of using issue to cover up ‘capitulation to terror in Gaza.'

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September 9, 2019 21:37
2 minute read.
Former defense minister MK Avigdor Liberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Former defense minister MK Avigdor Liberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The MKs who opposed the “cameras bill” want the election to be “fraudulent and stolen,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, shortly after the proposal was stopped from going to a vote in the Knesset on Monday.

The Knesset Arrangements Committee stopped the Likud-backed bill, which would allow observers to bring cameras to polling stations, but not into voting booths, on Election Day, from going to a first reading Monday. The committee vote came down to 12 in favor and 12 opposed – in the Knesset, a tie is akin to a rejection.
The cameras bill could technically still go to a vote on Wednesday, but it would be too late to pass it as law before the September 17 election.


“There is no reason for those who really want clean elections to oppose the cameras bill that prevents election fraud,” Netanyahu said.


The prime minister accused Yisrael Beytenu and Blue and White’s leadership of voting with the Joint List against the bill, “because they are going together to a left-wing government, where [Joint List MKs] Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh will be ministers.”
 
The proper response to the bill being blocked is to “come in masses” to vote for Likud, Netanyahu added.

When asked if Likud would try to find a way to bring the bill back, Knesset Arrangements Committee chairman Miki Zohar said “it’s a lost cause.”


The tie in the committee was due to Kulanu MK Roy Folkman’s absence. Folkman is not running in the upcoming election, and refused to come to the Knesset. Kulanu did not have any other MKs to replace him for the vote, because the rest of them are ministers, meaning they cannot be members of Knesset committees.


In addition, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman announced hours before the vote that his party would be voting against the bill.


Liberman described the bill as an attempt by Netanyahu to “steal the elections.”


“This [current] bill is being advanced only to disrupt the elections,” Liberman said at a press conference in the Knesset Monday morning. “Supervision of the elections cannot be carried out by Netanyahu’s private militia who are only interested in stopping the smooth running of the elections and to harm the results.


“Yisrael Beytenu is in favor of supervising the elections, but only through a state body,” Liberman added.


The Yisrael Beytenu leader said his party would only support the bill if Likud adopted a change to the text of the legislation stipulating that the Central Elections Committee be the body to send representatives with cameras to polling stations, not party-appointed election observers.

The Central Elections Committee already planned to send out 3,000 “election integrity observers,” with 1,000 body cameras borrowed from the police, and who would visit every single polling station in the country. In addition, the entire vote-counting process would be filmed in stations that the committee designated as problematic.

Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid said the cameras bill being blocked shows that Netanyahu has become “a serial loser.”

“He wants to be a strong prime minister, but he turned into a hysterical prime minister,” Lapid said. “He’s surrounded by a bunch of blackmailers and extremists that trick him. They’ll give him immunity [from prosecution], he’ll give them billions. He’ll give them religious coercion – all at our expense. All at the expense of our children’s future. He’ll give them, we won’t.”

 


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