Knesset legal adviser: Election can’t be canceled

Loophole leaves possibility for war to cancel race.

July 5, 2019 01:39
2 minute read.
A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Tel Aviv, April 9, 2019

A woman casts her ballot as Israelis vote in a parliamentary election, at a polling station in Tel Aviv, Israel April 9, 2019. (photo credit: CORINNA KERN/REUTERS)

The September 17 election must take place and cannot be cancelled, Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon ruled on Thursday, but he left open the possibility that the election could still be prevented if war broke out.

Yinon responsed to a request to clarify the law from Labor MK Stav Shaffir. She inquired after Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein advanced an initiative to obtain the support of 80 MKs to cancel the Knesset’s dispersal and form a national unity government of Likud and Blue and White.

“The dispersal of the Knesset and the setting of the September 17 election cannot be canceled, except if the Knesset passes a proposal by a vote of 80 MKs to postpone the race for a limited time due to special circumstances that prevent the election from being carried out on time,” Yinon wrote Shaffir. “This is not relevant to the current situation.”

Yinon wrote that the law dispersing the Knesset is not a regular bill that can be amended or changed but constitutional legislation. He said the election process was already under way, so it would be unfair to stop it.

“Changing the rules in the middle of the game is not possible in the current timing,” Yinon wrote Shaffir.

A Knesset spokesman stressed that the answer Yinon wrote was not the full legal ruling he had been working on. Yinon decided not to complete that legal ruling, because Edelstein already announced on Twitter on Wednesday that the initiative died.

“Due to the Knesset speaker’s announcement that the initiative will no longer be pursued, the question became theoretical,” Yinon wrote. “Under such circumstances, it is no longer necessary to address the question in a comprehensive manner.”

Edelstein tweeted that he was asked to advance the initiative to cancel the race on behalf of the citizens of Israel and in order to save billions for the taxpayers.

“Unfortunately, not everyone cooperated and therefore we cannot cancel the elections,” Edelstein wrote on Twitter.

Blue and White MK Yair Lapid mocked Edelstein’s statement in a response to Edelstein that Lapid tweeted to him.

“Do you want to save billions, Yuli? Lapid wrote. “Come and form a unity government without Bibi that will not give in to those who extort it.”

Shaffir responded by expressing gratitude that “another political spin of Netanyahu is crumbling.” She said she hoped the ruling would inspire people to join the effort to unseat Netanyahu.

“Bibi’s approach is to spread lies and spin and bring the public to such dispare that they will no longer believe it does not have to be this way,” Shaffir said. “The only way to bring about change is to fight for it, without fear. Our biggest mission in this election is to free Israel from those who want to harm our democracy. There is no excuse to not get involved in such a struggle.”

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