Scaled-back electoral reform bill advances

Knesset’s Law and Constitution Committee approves toned-down version of Yisrael Beytenu Yesh Atid’s electoral reform legislation.

July 23, 2013 01:18
1 minute read.
Israeli government at the Knesset, April 22, 2013.

Cabinet standing up Knesset 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

After a stormy, seven-hour marathon session, the Knesset’s Law and Constitution Committee voted Monday to approve a toned-down version of Yisrael Beytenu and Yesh Atid’s electoral reform legislation.

The coalition intends to bring the bill to a vote in the Knesset plenum once Wednesday night and twice next week to pass it into law before the Knesset’s extended summer recess, as Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman has demanded.

The bill would limit the number of ministers not including the prime minister to 18, none of whom could hold more or less than one portfolio. There would be only four deputy ministers.

The legislation would limit the opposition to submitting no-confidence motions once a month instead of every week.

The prime minister would be required to sit through the deliberations on the no-confidence motion.

The only way the opposition could submit a no-confidence motion without waiting a month would be to draft the support of the majority of the Knesset’s 120 MKs. If a no-confidence motion passes, the alternative candidate proposed for prime minister would have three weeks to form a new coalition or the current government would remain in place.

The electoral reform package does not include raising the electoral threshold from two percent to four percent. Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beytenu agreed on the raise, but other parties in the coalition asked that it be delayed to further legislation.

Committee chairman David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu), who drafted the bill, conceded to Yesh Atid’s demand to erase a clause giving the prime minister the power to disperse the Knesset without the approval of the president.

Ahead of the passage in Rotem’s committee, he fought bitterly with Labor legislators and Hadash MK Dov Henin.

The opposition MKs filibustered and attempted to prevent Rotem from bringing the bill to a vote.

“Liberman has taken brutal steps to force the electoral reforms on the coalition and the Knesset,” Labor faction chairman Isaac Herzog said.

“We will continue to fight this bill. We will not let Liberman trample over us.”

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