The Knesset will disperse Thursday, the coalition and opposition announced late Wednesday night after Yisrael Beytenu, Labor and the Joint List applied delaying tactics throughout the day.
Along with the delays in the legislative process, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced he would not be running in the next election, setting off a political storm as Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is now expected to take over the party’s reins.
The coalition and opposition had originally agreed on Monday that the dissolution bill would pass by Wednesday at midnight.
However, Yisrael Beytenu tried to delay the procedure in protest of the party funding bill, which will increase the funds that parties receive during the next Knesset. The party opposed the funding bill from the start, calling it a “robbery of public funds in broad daylight.” It voted against the bill’s first reading in the plenum earlier on Wednesday morning, but it still passed with a 74-5 majority. At press time, the bill had not yet passed.
Labor attempted to delay the bill in protest of the Metro Law being left out of the package of bills that the sides agreed to pass before the dispersal. The law sets a framework for expanding the Tel Aviv Light Rail network into a full subway system. Its exclusion means that it cannot pass into law before the Knesset disperses. It will be delayed by at least four months until the next Knesset forms. The opposition insisted on blocking the bill because it is a major victory for Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli and for the entire coalition.
Yisrael Beytenu also joined the Metro Law objections.
“We intend to file hundreds of objections to the Knesset Dispersal Bill and the absurdity called ‘party funding raise’ before their final vote and [will] do everything we can in order to pass the Metro Law, which comes to take on the traffic problems in the most significant way possible, while at the same time providing a solution to Israel’s housing and employment challenges,” Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman wrote on Twitter prior to the debate.
“During these moments, I expect, at least, from all of my friends in the coalition to put all political considerations aside and act only for the national interest.”
"During these moments, I expect, at least, from all of my friends in the coalition to put all political considerations aside and act only for the national interest."Avigdor Liberman
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The Joint List attempted to delay the process until after midnight on Thursday, when the West Bank emergency regulations will expire. The party filed 517 pages with more than 10,000 objections. But most of the objections were canceled, as they were not relevant to the bill at hand.
The West Bank emergency regulations apply Israeli law to its citizens in Judea and Samaria. The Knesset’s dispersal automatically extends the regulations for six months. If the Knesset does not disperse by then, the settlers’ legal status will be unclear.
Israeli law stipulates that Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid becomes prime minister at midnight at the end of the day of the Knesset’s dispersal. The coalition initially wanted the Knesset to disperse by midnight so Lapid could be sworn in on Thursday.
The Knesset Committee took a short break while Bennett gave a statement to the press about his stepping down from politics.
The Knesset plenum also passed a package of bills on their first reading throughout the day on Wednesday. This is because once a bill passes its first reading, its legislation can continue in the next Knesset from where it left off, instead of beginning all over again.