Naftali Bennett at the Jerusalem Post's Diplomatic Conference.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett returned to his post Monday, a day after his resignation went into effect, and opposition critics charged that his political maneuvering amounted to disrespect for the democratic system.
Bennett became a member of the Knesset again, nearly two months after departing from his legislative position under the so-called “Norwegian Law.”
The Israeli version of the law, which has a narrower scope than the original, says a minister from each party may resign from the Knesset to allow the next person in the party’s list to become a lawmaker. If the minister is fired or resigns, he or she may return to the Knesset, and the MK who replaced him or her must leave.
Bayit Yehudi advocated for passing the Norwegian Law earlier this year, citing separation of powers. The party welcomed MK Shuli Muallem, who was sworn in to the Knesset instead of Bennett.
Last week, Bayit Yehudi’s Yinon Magal resigned after sexual harassment allegations, and the next candidate on the list was former deputy education minister Avi Wortzman.
However, Wortzman chose to retain his position of director-general of Aleh Negev - Nahalat Eran, a village for young adults with multiple disabilities.
At the same time, Wortzman did not want to resign from the Bayit Yehudi list.
A party source said Wortzman wanted to avoid being at the mercy of Bennett’s decision to resign or the prime minister’s to fire him.
Bennett tendered his resignation from the cabinet last week to resume his previous role as MK. Then, on Monday, the Knesset voted him back into the cabinet, contradicting his own call earlier for a separation of powers.
MK Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union) accused Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of lying to the public about the “Norwegian Law.”
“Only a few months ago, Bennett and Shaked defended the change to a Basic Law... I said in that debate, ‘this is not the Norwegian Law, it’s the Israeli Jobs Law.’ Today, Bennett is returning to the seat that was kept warm for him. What happened to all his arguments from then?” Rosenthal said.
“Do we no longer need to strengthen the Knesset? Do we no longer need to allow legislators to focus on their work and not run between committees?” Rosenthal said. “The motive behind the law was completely personal. None of its proposers focused on the rationale, just political negotiations.”
Rosenthal accused Bennett and Shaked of lying to the public about their intentions in getting the law amended, thereby harming democracy.
Speaking in the plenum debate about Bennett’s return, MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) called it “a farce and disrespectful to the government.”
MK Dov Henin (Joint List) quipped that Norway should sue the coalition for slander, because what they call the “Norwegian Law” does not resemble the policy in the Scandinavian state.
“They don’t have these kinds of political tricks in Norway,” he said.