Edelstein to Weinstein: Mind your own business

Knesset Speaker tells A-G not to set schedules for legislature after latter rules haredi draft bill must pass during summer recess.

August 7, 2013 19:37
2 minute read.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein [file]

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein 370 (R). (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)


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It's not the Attorney-General's job to set schedules for the legislature, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said Wednesday.

Edelstein's comments came a day after Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, in which he wrote the Knesset must pass a haredi enlistment  bill immediately, even though the Knesset is in recess until October.

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The Tal Law, which granted enlistment exemptions to the ultra-orthodox, officially expired last August, about six months after the High Court ruled the Knesset cannot extend it.

Weinstein told Netanyahu and Ya'alon they must pass a new enlistment bill by August 20.

The government's haredi enlistment bill was approved in its first reading two weeks ago, and a Knesset committee led by MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) has been holding discussions on the legislation.

"We're working as hard as we can to finish preparing the bill for its second and third readings," Shaked said. "At the same time, I won't give up on a serious legislative process with a deep discussion."

According to Shaked, "such a serious matter deserves our full attention and a lot of time."

Edelstein wrote a letter in response to Weinstein, saying that he should not intervene in Knesset affairs.

"Once the government submits a bill to the Knesset, it is not the Attorney General or even the prime minister or other ministers' job to set the legislative schedule. That is the job of the chairman of the relevant committee and the Knesset speaker, who sets the Knesset's agenda and decides when bills are brought to a vote," he wrote.

The Knesset Speaker emphasized that it is important to hold a thorough debate on every draft bill.

"Discussing a bill in the Knesset committees and the plenum is not just a formal 'transit station' that it has to pass between government decisions and the Supreme Court," Edelstein wrote. "The job of the Knesset and its committees is to examine bills the government submits, hold a public discussion and listen to the people involved in the matter, including those the government did not hear, and use its judgment."

Edelstein added that part of the Knesset's importance is its transparency and that it allows public participation in discussions, as opposed to ministerial meetings.

However, the Knesset Speaker wrote that he and Shaked are aware of the urgency of arranging haredi enlistment, and as such, her committee is  holding meetings during the Knesset's summer recess.

"Still, this cannot come at the expense of the proper legislative process, which is in the government's interest in an issue the courts called one of the most sensitive in Israeli society," Edelstein concluded.

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