Rivlin shelves powder keg 'Mofaz Law'

Knesset speaker freezes 2 of 3 bills at heart of stalemate, will meet PM to iron out differences.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
June 22, 2009 02:57
2 minute read.

rivlin 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

 
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Opposition leaders planned to meet Monday to discuss the continuation of their "war of attrition" against the coalition. On Sunday, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin decided to block two of the three bills at the heart of the parliamentary stalemate from reaching the Knesset floor on Monday in the hope of putting an end to the crisis. Rivlin determined that only the so-called Norwegian Law would be put up for vote in the plenum, while the powder-keg "Mofaz Law" would be held until a later date in an attempt to allow coalition and opposition lawmakers to fine-tune the legislation. The opposition leaders' meeting will come hours before the scheduled vote on the Norwegian law, which would allow one minister from each party in the coalition to resign to allow the next name on the party's list to enter the Knesset and the minister to return to the Knesset if he quits the cabinet. The opposition has yet to decide it it will boycott the vote on that bill, as they did during the first reading of the state budget last Wednesday. Rivlin met with Kadima powerbroker Shaul Mofaz on Sunday, three days after a meeting with Mofaz's interparty rival, opposition chairwoman Tzipi Livni. The "Mofaz Law" would change the rules so that a rebel faction would no longer need to constitute a third of a party's MKs to break away, but would only need seven lawmakers. The bill is seen as directed at the right flank of Kadima, encouraging it to break away and re-join the Likud and the government. Mofaz told Israel Radio following his meeting with Rivlin that he planned to vote against the bill that informally bears his name. Although the Knesset speaker is a staunch opponent of legislation that he thinks would undermine the legislature's authority - a position that has put him on a collision course with his party chairman, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Rivlin denied Sunday that there had been any worsening of relations between the two men. An official in the speaker's office confirmed that the pair was expected to meet in Rivlin's Knesset office on Monday to discuss the crisis in the legislature, but downplayed the meeting, saying the two usually met three times a week to update each other on the political situation. "There are differences between them, but it is far from a disconnect," said the official. The opposition launched its protests at a press conference last Tuesday and since has boycotted almost all of the Knesset's proceedings, including the first reading of the budget bill on the plenum floor. The opposition members says that the three "governance laws," which the government argues will increase stability, undermine the opposition, and in doing so, the entire legislative process.

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