Israeli parties prepare legislative demands for Netanyahu's new coalition

Nearly all of the parties that recommended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the president plan to ask that the coalition agree to pass certain laws.

March 24, 2015 06:20
President Reuven Rivlin

President Reuven Rivlin. (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)


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As parties gear up for coalition negotiations, they’re not only preparing to demand portfolios; there are policies they want to make sure the next government pushes forward.

Nearly all of the parties that recommended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the president plan to ask that the coalition agree to pass certain laws, but what remains to be seen is how many of them will actually end up in the new government’s guidelines at the end of negotiations.

Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet Shaked said Monday that her priority, policy-wise, is to pass legislation that would require any NGO that receives funding from a foreign country to get authorization from the Finance Ministry, Defense Ministry and Knesset Finance Committee to do so.

The bill is one of many rightwing politicians have proposed to limit what they said is unfair intervention by foreign governments, particularly in the European Union, in the Israeli political process, mainly via funding for left-wing nonprofit organizations that call themselves human rights groups.

Shaked’s proposal would instate a different mechanism, allowing the donations to be limited.

“The previous attempts [to pass laws with a similar goal] were torpedoed by the attorney- general. Here he has no grounds to thwart it, because [nonprofit organizations’] exemption from income tax also has to be approved by the Finance Committee,” she explained.

Bayit Yehudi also plans to demand that the government adopt the Edmund Levy report on settlements, particularly in relation to land disputes in the West Bank.

The government-sponsored Levy Report, named after former Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy, who wrote it after his retirement in 2011, states that West Bank settlements are legal under international law.

It also calls for the government to make outposts built on state land legal.

Outposts are extensions of existing settlements in the West Bank that have yet to be legally authorized, though many are built on state land.

Netanyahu never brought the report for authorization by the government or relevant ministerial committees.

Shaked said that currently, “when there’s a dispute about land in Judea and Samaria, the decision is overwhelmingly to evacuate [Israelis], even if the claims [of Palestinian ownership] don’t check out.”

As such, Bayit Yehudi plans to insist that a suggestion Levy made in his report – that a special tribunal be formed to settle land disputes – be passed as law and implemented.

As for socioeconomic issues, Bayit Yehudi plans to ask for the government – not the Knesset – to approve a plan to develop the North by building industry, moving army bases and increasing public transportation and infrastructure in the area.

Though Shaked was one of the sponsors of the controversial Nationality Bill, a Basic Law that sought to anchor Israel’s Jewishness in legislation, she said the party is not talking about it now.

Yisrael Beytenu does not plan to demand the Nationality Bill be passed either, though its MK Robert Ilatov was also one of its sponsors.

Ilatov, who is on the Yisrael Beytenu coalition negotiations team, said that, officially, the party has not put together its list of demands yet, but that once negotiations start, it will bring a clear list to Netanyahu.

“We will act according to our party guidelines,” he explained.

“We understand we need to be open to negotiations, but we won’t give up on the principles that are most important to us.”

The Jerusalem Post obtained a four-page document titled “Yisrael Beytenu’s Guidelines for the 20th Knesset,” which a senior party source said is essentially its list of demands beyond the Defense Ministry for party head Avigdor Liberman.

Among the demands are a law to make sure the death penalty for terrorists is implemented; another requiring every 16-yearold to declare loyalty to the symbols of the state, in order to get a government ID card and the right to vote for, and be elected to, the Knesset; and affirmative action in university acceptance, jobs and boards of directors for people who served in the IDF or did national service.

Yisrael Beytenu also plans to submit a bill that will prevent the High Court from intervening in Knesset and Central Election Committee decisions and will form a separate, constitutional court.

The party also has demands on socioeconomic matters, such as canceling value-added tax for, and setting prices on, 50 basic food products; unemployment payments for the self-employed; and granting 90 percent mortgages to couples where both served in the IDF or did national service and work a combined 125%-or-more-time job.

It also wants to increase the number of doctors and nurses, have better training for science teachers, and provide free school from age six months for children with parents who met the conditions for a 90% mortgage, as well as after-school care and summer camp for ages three to 10 and a requirement to learn to play chess in elementary school.

Yisrael Beytenu has many other non-portfolio demands, such as destroying Hamas, that would not come up in legislation.

Speaking to the Post, United Torah Judaism MK Menahem Eliezer Moses said that it is a clear priority for UTJ to remove what he described as the “criminal sanctions clause” from the law for haredi conscription that was passed by the last government, but that the party would not necessarily insist that this requirement be a part of the coalition guidelines.

A UTJ official said that the party would certainly request that the so-called status quo on religion and state issues be protected, and that increases to child allotments and state-paid stipends to yeshiva students be part of the coalition guidelines.

A senior Shas official said the party has three demands, all on socioeconomic lines. The first is to have no value-added tax on basic food items. The second is to raise the minimum wage to NIS 30 per hour, from the current 23.12, which will rise to 25 on April 1.

Shas’s third demand is to have 7.5% of all construction on Israel Land Authority land be expropriated for public housing.

Kulanu said it has yet to formulate a list of policies or laws it will demand.

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