KNESSET SPEAKER Yuli Edelstein addresses the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
(photo credit: BOAZ ARAD)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein threw his support behind an opposition demand to disqualify and re-do a Finance Committee vote on taxing owners of three apartments or more Sunday, after Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon pointed to problems with the vote.
Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni (UTJ), however, refused to hold another meeting on the matter, saying the discussion was deep and serious enough, and citing his membership in the coalition and relationship with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.
“We demand the speaker disqualify the legislative procedure in light of the Knesset’s legal adviser and the Finance Committee’s legal adviser’s conclusive opinion that the procedure was wrongful,” stated the letter to Edelstein signed by MKs Zehava Gal-On (Meretz), Ahmad Tibi (Joint List), Osama Sa’adi (Joint List), Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Union), Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union) and Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid).
Edelstein does not have the authority to tell committee chairmen what to do or to reverse their decisions.
However, he wrote a letter of his own to Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) asking him to heed the opposition lawmakers’ call.
“Even if the chapter is authorized legally, there is no argument that the process of authorization suffers from impropriety, especially because it is a chapter that includes a complex taxation arrangement, and therefore requires a deeper discussion,” Edelstein wrote, and suggested that the new meeting be held on Sunday.
Voting on the second and third (final) readings of the budget is slated to begin on Monday afternoon, leaving little time for any do-overs in the Finance Ministry.
The opposition’s letter followed a letter from Yinon to Gafni, saying the legislative procedure on the new tax was “carried out with gross improprieties that go to the very roots of the procedure.”
One of those improprieties was that Finance Ministry representatives did not present an updated version of the much-amended article in the Economic Arrangements Bill, which is passed in tandem with the budget, until an hour before committee members were asked to vote on it.
The opposition MKs cite Yinon’s professional opinion as well as the committee’s legal adviser Sagit Afik, who reportedly voiced her opposition to the questionable procedure during Thursday night’s debate over the bill.
“The MKs’ rights were trampled as they were not even allowed to study the bill they were supposed to vote on,” wrote the MKs.
According to the Finance Committee's spokesman Eyal Kazir, the bill was only accepted for vote after “stubborn negotiations between committee members and the Finance Ministry’s and Tax Authority’s heads.”
The opposition MKs staged a walkout on Thursday night in protest of the bill’s late submission for study and did not participate in Friday morning’s vote.
Gafni also stormed out of the committee in protest at around 6 a.m. Prior to his exist, he expressed his opposition to the chapter, calling it "the worst bill ever." He was then replaced by the coalition coordinator in the Finance Committee Miki Zohar (Likud) who oversaw the vote, which ended nearly an hour later.
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