A controversial bill of Ra'am (United Arab List) MK Waleed Taha that would enable Arab and Bedouin homes built illegally to be connected to the national electric grid was passed 63 to 29 in a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday afternoon.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked toned down the bill and made it apply to half the places originally intended. Only those in which building plans have been partially approved.
Taha, who chairs the Knesset Interior Committee, had threatened to prevent the passage of the state budget and initiate elections if the bill was not advanced.
"The bill fulfills a basic civic right," Taha told the plenum. "It is unacceptable and wrong to make this a political issue. Those seeking political gain should look elsewhere, instead of depriving Arab citizens of basic rights.
Minister in the Finance Ministry Hamed Amar (Yisrael Beytenu) said such homes must be hooked up to a national grid to save lives. He said a family in Usefiya that was hooked up illegally recently died in a fire.
Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich and Likud MK Yoav Kisch spoke against the bill in the plenum. Kisch accused Shaked of surrendering to Ra'am.