Liberman gives up plan to squelch opposition

Yisrael Beytenu leader abandons push to abolish no-confidence votes, says he has revised his party's electoral reform bill.

June 9, 2013 19:53
1 minute read.
Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post

Avigdor Liberman 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman abandoned his efforts to persuade the Knesset to abolish no-confidence votes on Sunday, telling the heads of the factions in the coalition that he had revised his party’s electoral reform bill.

The controversial legislation, proposed by Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee chairman David Rotem, would have required a Knesset majority in order to submit a no-confidence motion. The bill’s opponents have said it would make submitting such motions nearly impossible, stifling democratic debate.

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Liberman denied this was his intention, in a lengthy letter he wrote to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. He said that though he still believed his reform plan was ideal, he toned it down to enable it to pass.

“The [no-confidence motion] clause brought about a wave of shallow, populist reactions,” Liberman wrote. “I believe no-confidence motions are the primary tool the opposition has to fight the government and it is important for safeguarding democracy. But the overuse of this tool every week eroded it, losing its stature until it became almost completely worthless.”

Liberman proposed that instead, each opposition faction would be allowed to file one no-confidence motion a month and that they would all be discussed the same day in the presence of the prime minister. He said such a change, which would take effect with the next Knesset, would return value to no-confidence motions while enabling the Knesset and the government to focus on more serious work.

“Passing this version of the bill will strengthen Israeli democracy and the ability of the government to govern while restoring the Knesset’s relevance,” Liberman wrote.

Rotem’s legislation would still limit the number of ministers to 18 and deputy ministers to four, and raise the electoral threshold from 2 to 4 percent. It would cancel the law that requires new elections if the budget does not pass.

Yesh Atid MK Ronen Hoffman has submitted a rival bill that would also limit the number of ministers to 18, adding that they can each hold one portfolio. The bill would raise the minimum number of MKs required to pass a no-confidence motion from 61 to 65.

Hoffman said his bill and Rotem’s would eventually be combined.

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