Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday postponed most of its decisions on bills due to a severe rift between its chairwoman, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and coalition chairman David Bitan.
Sources close to Shaked said, due to an argument over single a bill, the justice minister decided to hold the voting and try to settle the disagreement.
According to the sources, Shaked said Bitan pressured the committee to support a bill she opposed and threatened to whip the coalition votes despite the cabinet’s objection.
The legislation discussed, the sources said, is MK Erel Margalit’s (Zionist Union) bill to regulate the cost of college tuition. The legislation, which is opposed by Education Minister and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, has been signed by 66 lawmakers, including Bitan himself.
As coalition chairman, one of Bitan’s duties is to gather votes from the different coalition factions in order to pass government-supported bills in the plenum and committees.
However, the justice minister’s office discusses the bills with the coalition chairman every week in order to strengthen cooperation and evaluate the differences between them.
“In the state of Israel, there is a 68-year tradition in which the Ministerial Committee for Legislation determines the coalition’s stance on the suggested bills, and it is doing so by voting and relying on the majority rule,” Shaked’s office said in a statement, claiming that Bitan’s move destabilizes the delicate relationship between the executive and legislative branches.
In the statement, Shaked slams Bitan and suggests that his motives to support the bill are not pure.
“In a democracy, unlike totalitarian rule, a Knesset member – important as he is – cannot impose his view on the entire government, and definitely not because of personal motives,” she said.
Bitan claimed that he is not the problem, saying he supports regulating tuition at colleges because it is the right thing to do.
“I have no personal motives,” Bitan told Maariv. “I said I support the bill because college tuition in Israel is crazy and should be limited even if the government has to fund it.”
Arik Bender/Maariv contributed to this report.