Mofaz Law, ILA reform face final battle

Knesset to meet for special session to pass bills up for vote; lands reform expected to ultimately pass.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
August 2, 2009 23:18
2 minute read.
Mofaz Law, ILA reform face final battle

mofaz 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])

Although the opposition still holds in its pocket 24 hours of the time allotted from last week's filibuster, it will wait for a last-minute meeting Monday morning to determine its strategy for what seems to be the final struggle against the Mofaz Law and the Israel Lands Authority reform. Sources within the opposition said Sunday that they believed that both bills would ultimately pass the house and that there was little motivation within the opposition to drag out the voting on the bills to a second special Knesset session Tuesday or Wednesday. The Knesset was set to meet for a special session Monday, after the coalition collected 40 signatures to convene the house plenum during the first week of recess to pass a series of bills, as well as to conclude last week's debate on the Mofaz Bill. That debate was the first item on the plenum's order of business, and it was this placement that threatened to once again delay the votes on two of the most controversial bills of the summer session. As the result of an agreement reached last week between coalition and opposition, the opposition was allotted 45 hours worth of debate on the bill , which would enable groups with as few as seven MKs to form their own Knesset faction. The opposition only managed to utilize 21 hours of the filibuster, which would enable it to keep the plenum's special session tied up with the debate. Should that happen, the coalition would need to collect an additional 40 signatures - not a problem for a 74-member coalition - in order to convene for yet another special session to pass the four bills that are up for vote. But the office of at least one of the leaders of the struggle against the ILA reform bill said Sunday they did not think that the extra day of filibuster would change the results of the vote. The reform, they said, would most likely pass the Knesset with - or without - the support of the still-wavering Labor Knesset faction. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Knesset faction was not taking any chances, however. Coalition whips warned MKs that in the event of the filibuster, coalition members were forbidden from leaving the Knesset building itself, even to sleep in one of the nearby hotels. During the voting itself, MKs were told, they were not allowed to leave their seats, even to go to the restrooms. The instructions provided a window on the mindset of Coaltion Chairman Ze'ev Elkin, who found himself short on coalition voices during key votes a few times during the summer session - at least twice on the Knesset floor and once in the House Committee. During the last ILA reform vote, several MKs from the Jewish Home Party and from Elkin's own Likud found excuses to disappear during the roll call vote.


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