Coalition defies legal authority on controversial electricity bill

Ra'am MK to opposition: "Did you think we Arabs would commit suicide in the sea or live in tents?"

THE KNESSET building in Jerusalem holds one of the world’s smallest legislatures. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
THE KNESSET building in Jerusalem holds one of the world’s smallest legislatures.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Right-wing parties in the opposition boycotted Tuesday night’s debate on the controversial electricity bill to protest the coalition disregarding the Knesset legal adviser and shortening the debate from 94 to 15 hours.

Opposition MKs will, however, participate in the vote on Wednesday morning on the final readings of the bill, which would allow tens of thousands of illegally built Arab homes to be hooked up to electricity, water and telephone lines.

“The coalition is breaking a dam,” Knesset legal adviser Sagit Afek said. “It could be that a filibuster on disputed issues was important. I really think that this is not the right situation to use such a parliamentary maneuver.”

The bill’s sponsor, Ra’am (United Arab List) faction head Waleed Taha thanked the Right for not participating.

“They saved us from hearing their poison, incitement and hate,” he said. “What did you think? That if no planning is done for the Arab sector, there would be no construction? Did you think we would commit suicide in the sea or live in tents?”

 PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett holds a press conference about the Omicron variant last week in Jerusalem. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett holds a press conference about the Omicron variant last week in Jerusalem. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The opposition responded that there was no point in participating in a “game that was rigged” and “allowing democracy to be trampled” in an unprecedented manner by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s governing coalition. Likud MK Shlomo Karhi, who submitted many of the amendments that stretched the debate to 94 hours, called for setting up a separate parliament.

“Bennett continues his close-out sale of the Negev to Ra’am,” opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said. “The fraudulent government of Bennett is galloping to pass the electricity bill that Ra’am demanded and received. This is yet another reason why this dangerous, fraudulent government must fly home immediately.”

The coalition responded that the opposition had no right to preach, as it continues to boycott Knesset committees and prevent the parliament from functioning properly.