Edelstein bids to shrink Economic Arrangements bill

Knesset speaker negotiates with Finance Ministry to ensure legislative process is respected.

June 6, 2013 01:20
2 minute read.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein addresses crowd  at  ceremony honoring the country's fallen soldiers.

Yuli Edelstein370 . (photo credit: Knesset Spokesman’s Office)

The Economic Arrangements bill shrank to a third of its original length after Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein negotiated with Finance Ministry representatives on Wednesday to ensure the legislative process is respected.

“The citizens of Israel must learn that the legislature passes laws and is not a group of people who vote for a bill without studying it in depth,” Edelstein said. “MKs are not marionettes.”

The Economic Arrangements bill is legislation passed alongside the state budget meant to lay out the government’s economic policy in greater detail. The bill tends to be lengthy and often includes articles that are not related to the budget.

The Knesset Speaker sought to remove all sections that were not connected to the budget and make them separate legislation.

“MKs need enough time to discuss every bill in the different committees,” he said. “My goal was to preserve the integrity of the Knesset, its legislative process and its members, and that is what I did.”

Edelstein commended the Finance Ministry representatives for conducting negotiations fairly and without running to the media with “sob stories.”

Edelstein, coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu), Knesset House Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud Beytenu) and the Knesset legal department negotiated the removal of two-thirds of the bill’s articles, specifically those that were not related to the budget and economic growth and those that canceled or delayed the implementation of laws.

This included measures dealing with digital television receivers, tax exemptions for agriculture, and installing traffic cameras.

They also canceled articles that cannot be properly discussed in the Knesset’s committees in the short time left before the budget and the Economic Arrangements bill have to be passed, by August 1.

However, Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon pointed out that the bill was still longer than usual and included fiscal legislation, as well as structural reforms in water corporations and the communications market.

Articles defunding “recognized but unofficial schools,” which includes the Shas school system, and requiring both spouses to work to get certain benefits remained in the bill, despite opposition from the Knesset negotiators.

“I think these are ideological matters and should not be in the framework of the Economic Arrangements bill.

Still, the finance minister thought differently and did not hide that this is an important issue for him,” Edelstein said.

“I don’t have delusions of grandeur and don’t think everything is worked out and we just need to vote,” the Knesset speaker added. “Now there’ll be battles in the committees.”

Most importantly, Edelstein emphasized, he did not let the bill escape thorough discussion in the Knesset or disrupt the legislative process.

Earlier this week, opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich wrote Edelstein a letter lamenting the Economic Arrangements Bill’s length – 207 pages and 111 articles.

The bill “undermines the sovereignty and the dignity of the Knesset as the institution elected by the public and subverts the democratic foundations of the legislative process,” Yacimovich said.

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