Isaac Herzog speaks at the Knesset.
(photo credit: ISAAC HARARI)
The coalition’s boycott of all opposition legislation is damaging to democracy and the Knesset, opposition leader Isaac Herzog wrote in a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon on Monday.
“Several weeks have passed, and the government’s boycott is continuing in a blatant and crude manner,” Herzog (Zionist Union) wrote. “The Ministerial Committee for Legislation headed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and her substitute, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, is continuing to refuse to allow a substantive and detailed discussion of the opposition’s proposed bills, all under the supervision and support of coalition chairman David Amsalem.”
Three weeks ago, Shaked and Levin announced that they would take punitive action against the opposition after a series of filibusters, followed by an incident in which the opposition stopped a planned filibuster before it began, taking advantage of the fact that several coalition MKs were absent, attending the funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevah, whom Palestinian terrorists had killed the night before.
Herzog said that the opposition used legitimate tools to fight bills it was against.
“I ask you,” he wrote to Edelstein and Yinon, “to put an end to this scandal. This is very deeply damaging to the core of parliamentary democracy and an unprecedented blow to the status of the Knesset, which is made up of factions in the coalition and opposition.
“We reserve the right to take parliamentary, public and legal steps if our demand is not met,” Herzog concluded.
Opposition coordinator Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) called the boycott “childish,” and said that in ignoring opposition bills, the coalition is ignoring “the disabled, the elderly and the weakest populations in Israel.
“We in the Zionist Union will not negotiate the obvious.
We will not negotiate about our responsibility to fight extremist, bad and corrupt legislation,” Hasson continued. “The fact that the Ministerial Committee for Legislation has turned into nothing more than a cynical tool meant to extort the opposition hurts the separation of powers, democracy, basic rules of fairness, and more than anything else, the citizens of the State of Israel.”
When the coalition instituted its boycott, Levin said: “I hope the step we’re taking today will lead [the opposition] to return to reasonable and respectful behavior in the Knesset.”
Shaked said the opposition ought to behave “more humanely in light of the terrorist attack. The inhumanity the opposition showed today is the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
The justice minister also took issue with legislators petitioning the High Court of Justice.
“I won’t allow a situation in which the opposition does its parliamentary job and filibusters for entire days, only to run to the High Court,” she added. “The opposition needs to decide if it wants to be on the path of legislation, or of circumventing the Knesset.”