knesset seats 298.88 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
By an overwhelming majority, the Knesset passed a first reading on a bill Monday that would limit the number of cabinet ministers to 18.
Seventy-eight MKs, including eight ministers, voted in favor of the bill, while only seven MKs, all from the Israel Beiteinu faction, voted against.
The bill was drafted by Likud MKs Gideon Sa'ar and Reuven Rivlin after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made headlines by appointing 27 ministers to his cabinet. Olmert's cabinet, which was the largest in Israel's history, costs the government more than an annual NIS 100 million to operate.
"This law creates a rule to govern the coalition game and reels in political excess and favors," said Rivlin after the vote.
The bill proposes a change to the Basic Law of the Knesset and therefore required that at least 61 MKs vote in favor of it before it moves to the next stage, where the Knesset House Committee will debate it. It will then return to the plenum for a second and third vote.
The bill would not change the composition of the current cabinet but would limit the next government to 18 ministers.
A spokesman for Israel Beiteinu said the party voted against the bill because Chairman and Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman has proposed his own bill to change the electoral process, which would also limit the number of cabinet ministers.