Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks at his watch before delivering a statement at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem December 19, 2018.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
The Knesset began the customary “clearing the table” on Tuesday, before its dissolution for parties to start campaigning for an early election.
“Clearing the table” is when MKs try to pass as many laws as possible before the Knesset goes to a recess. This takes place at the end of any Knesset session, not just before an election – but when lawmakers are in their final days before an election, many are acutely aware that they may not be back in a few months to see their bills become law.
Knesset House Committee chairman Miki Zohar (Likud), tried to stretch out the table-clearing period for as long as possible, calling for the Knesset not to be dispersed until January 8 – bringing it to the minimum 90 days necessary before holding an election on April 9.
“The Knesset serves the State of Israel and not the politicians,” Zohar argued. “We will have to work hard in the next week…The law requires the Knesset to decide on a date for an election 90 days in advance. Let’s open our calendars and set the dissolution [of the Knesset] on that day. I think there are many important bills that we should complete before going to elections.”
Zohar has thus far been rebuffed, and the Knesset is expected to vote to dissolve itself on Wednesday. However, the table-cleaning will continue next week, on Monday and Tuesday.
One of the laws that passed on Tuesday was by MKs Anat Berko (Likud) and Oded Forrer (Yisrael Beytenu) to prohibit terrorists in prison from having their sentences shortened by one-third, as other prisoners may do if they show remorse and rehabilitation.
Berko said: “I’m glad that we managed to bring this to a final vote despite going to an election... We are promoting an important law for national security. We won’t stop working for our citizens’ security.”
Another law passed Tuesday night would allow the export of medical cannabis, and sets regulations for licensing of medical cannabis businesses, including requiring the police to weigh in.
Knesset Interior Committee chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud) wrote in the law’s explanatory portion that the state is expected to earn a billion shekels each year from medical cannabis exports.
As part of the table-clearing before an election, the Knesset is also set to vote on many bills in a first reading. The legislative process on any bill that passes a first reading in this Knesset is required to continue in the next Knesset, so MKs will try to ensure their proposals have a future even if they cannot become law next week.
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