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 small party to quit the Knesset, but return if they leave the cabinet.
The bill passed in a preliminary reading by a 67-53 vote with the support of MKs from the coalition and Yisrael Beytenu. Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett praised the bill in the Knesset plenum, saying it would make their parliamentary work more effective but former Welfare Minister Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) said it was a waste of NIS 7 million.
If passed into law, the bill would apply to factions of less than a dozen MKs. It still must pass multiple political hurdles to become law but if it does, 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 a deputy minister or Religious Affairs Minister David Azoulay.
Kulanu would also be eligible to have a new MK come in but sources in the party said it would decline to do so, because of the cost to the public coffers.
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 lawmakers’ job is to oversee the executive branch of government.
A Bayit Yehudi spokeswoman praised the advancement of the bill, saying that it would enable factions in the coalition to strengthen their parliamentary work while adding fit and effective members to the Knesset.
Yisrael Beytenu announced it would support the bill from the opposition, praising it as an important step on the way to separate the branches of government and make them more effective.
But Zionist Union MK Miki Rosenthal said the bill was corrupt. He said it was initially intended to allow MKs to do their work more effectively, but the legislation it had become a mere excuse to give former MKs jobs.
Israel Democracy Institute president Yohanan Plesner warned that the bill would deepen the public’s mistrust in politics. He said a much more significant shake-up in the electoral system was urgently needed.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report
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