Coalition to block Yisrael Beytenu electoral bill

While Knesset is expected to approve preliminary reading, sources in all the coalition parties say the bill will be stopped afterward.

David Rotem 370 (photo credit: Jeremy Sharon)
David Rotem 370
(photo credit: Jeremy Sharon)
The Knesset is expected to easily approve on Wednesday the preliminary reading of a controversial electoral reform bill that passed unanimously in the ministerial committee on legislation on Monday.
However, sources in all the coalition parties said the bill would be stopped afterward due to a clause requiring the support of all the factions in the coalition. Each of the factions opposes clauses in the bill proposed by Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee chairman David Rotem (Likud Beytenu).
Rotem’s bill would increase the election threshold to four percent, limit the number of ministers including the prime minister to 19, and of deputy ministers to four. It would extend the amount of time a new government has to pass a budget from 45 to 100 days.
The bill would require no-confidence motions to be submitted by at least 61 MKs who agree on an alternative candidate for prime minister.
If that candidate could not form a government, the Knesset would not be dissolved.
Rotem said the bill would bring about much-needed political stability and governability.
While Rotem expressed confidence that he could pass the bill into law, Likud Beytenu’s coalition partners said it would not happen.
“The legislation cannot move forward as is,” said MK Meir Sheetrit, faction chairman of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party.
“We are against shutting the mouths of the opposition.
Requiring 61 will not allow opposition MKs to express themselves,” he said.
Sheetrit said his party supported raising the threshold, noting that when he proposed a bill raising it to 5 percent, Yisrael Beytenu MKs voted against it. He said the biggest problem with the bill was that it does not include direct regional elections for the Knesset.
Yesh Atid intends to propose its own electoral reform bill. MK Ronen Hoffman, who is in charge of the issue for the party, invited electoral reform groups to a conference at the Knesset on Wednesday.
Israel Democracy Institute president Arik Carmon called Rotem’s bill a “disappointing first step toward necessary electoral reform.”
Opposition MKs took turns bashing the bill during their faction meetings at the Knesset on Monday. Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich blamed Livni for not stopping the bill yet. She said it was absurd that Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman was advancing legislation while on trial and Livni was letting him get away with it.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On said the electoral threshold was high enough and that passing Rotem’s bill would prevent ideological voices from entering the Knesset.
Shas faction chairman Ariel Atias urged Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to block the bill.
“In politics sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down,” Atias said. “The parties in the coalition should not use their current power to trample the parties in the opposition, because they will be back in the opposition eventually. That’s the way it works in politics.”
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.