Bill to add MKs may be in trouble

Until Thursday afternoon, it looked like the bill would already pass into law next week and new MKs would already be sworn in before the Knesset begins its extended summer recess.

Israeli Knesset members arguing in parliament. (photo credit: KNESSET CHANNEL)
Israeli Knesset members arguing in parliament.
(photo credit: KNESSET CHANNEL)
The Knesset voted early Thursday to advance a bill that would enable a minister or deputy minister from each coalition party to quit the Knesset, but return if they leave the cabinet.
The bill passed a preliminary reading by a 67-53 vote with the support of MKs from the coalition and Yisrael Beytenu.
The Knesset House Committee decided Thursday morning that it would be prepared for its final readings in the Knesset Law Committee, which is headed by a staunch supporter of the bill, Bayit Yehudi MK Nissan Slomiansky.
Until Thursday afternoon, it looked like the bill would already pass into law next week and new MKs would already be sworn in before the Knesset begins its extended summer recess next Wednesday night.
Knesset legal authorities, however, told MKs that it was legally problematic because it applies to the current Knesset, rather than being implemented for the first time after the next election.
Despite the difficulty, the legal authorities are not expected to be able to block the bill from passing but they could end up postponing it from becoming law.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett praised the legislation in the Knesset plenum, saying it would make their parliamentary work more effective. Former welfare and social services minister Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid), however, said it was a waste of NIS 7 million.
If passed into law, there would be new MKs in Bayit Yehudi, Shas and United Torah Judaism.
The bill has been advanced by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who wants to quit the Knesset to enable the entrance of former MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, the next candidate on the Bayit Yehudi list.
In UTJ, a deputy minister would leave in favor of former MK Ya’acov Asher. In Shas, former MK Avraham Michaeli would return at the expense of Shas leader Arye Deri.
Kulanu and the Likud would be eligible to have a new MK come in, but sources in Kulanu said it would decline to do so because of the cost to the public coffers. No Likud ministers are interested in quitting.
The “Norwegian Law,” based on the model of the Scandinavian country’s government, requires each minister to be replaced in the legislature by a candidate from his or her party’s ballot. If the minister is fired or resigns, he or she would reclaim a place in the Knesset and the substitute would no longer be a lawmaker.
The bill is meant to increase separation of powers, changing the current situation in which about a third of MKs cannot fully function as parliamentarians, because they are ministers or deputy ministers, and a central part of a lawmaker’s job is to oversee the executive branch of government.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.