'Two-year budget could be unconstitutional'

"There is no global economic crisis, we are not in an election year and we cannot claim that it's a pilot, because we've already tried this a few times," says Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon.

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May 23, 2016 18:16
1 minute read.
Knesset

The Knesset plenum . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

 
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s favored two-year budget plan weakens the Knesset and strengthens the executive branch, which could be a constitutional problem, Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon said Monday.

Speaking to the Knesset Finance Committee, Yinon said the current plan to move to a two-year budget has no defensible explanation.

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“There is no global economic crisis, we are not in an election year and we cannot claim that it’s a pilot because we’ve already tried this a few times,” Yinon stated, referring to past justifications.

The current plan is for the twoyear budget to be a temporary measure, but Yinon said if it is passed as a regular law, there would be constitutional issues.

Israel does not have a constitution, but violating Basic Laws, which are supposed to eventually form a constitution, is often called “unconstitutional.” In this case, Yinon was concerned a two-year budget could be seen as bending Basic Law: State Economy.

“[A two-year budget] weakens the Knesset, and especially that of the opposition, to influence national priorities once a year,” Yinon explained. “It also weakens the opposition’s strength to bring early elections by bringing down the government.”

Netanyahu hopes to have a twoyear budget to stabilize his government until 2019 and, therefore, made all coalition members agree to it.

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Knesset Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni (UTJ) said the panel will add a system to the budget bill to overcome the problems of a two-year budget and allowing for changes after the first year.

“My basic stance is that we must have a one-year budget. Every other country does this, except Bahrain, but the prime minister wants a two-year budget... I will make sure there is a balance and limitations on the two-year budget so we can make changes,” he stated.

“Two-year budget” is a misnomer, Gafni explained: “It really is two one-year budgets that are approved at the same time.”

MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) called for Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to resign over the twoyear budget, while MK Erel Margalit (Zionist Union) said: “The finance minister and his ministry’s bureaucrats said clearly that they oppose a two-year budget.

Now the finance minister is hiding behind extremist government members and giving in to their bizarre priorities. They’re selling the country because of politics, sacrificing people’s livelihoods.”

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