Pressure is mounting on ministers within the Likud to resign from the Knesset under the “Norwegian Law,” and enable the next in line on the party’s list to enter the Knesset, according to a number of reports in recent days and a source from the party.
First legislated in 2015, the Norwegian Law enables a number of ministers from each coalition party to resign from the Knesset.
The coalition amended the law on January 23 and raised the number of Likud ministers allowed to resign from seven to 11. However, only four Likud ministers have resigned so far – Tourism Minister Haim Katz, Diaspora Affairs and Social Equality Minister Amichai Chikli, Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman and Culture and Sport Minister Miki Zohar.
This brought in numbers 33-36 on the Likud’s list: Dan Illouz, Ariel Kallner, Eti Atiah and Amit Halevi.
The Likud won 32 seats in the November 1 election. Its list has a number of components, the central one being the result of the countrywide primary election. However, it also includes spots reserved for women and specific minorities – Druze, haredi, young and others; spots reserved for party leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal choices; and 10 spots reserved for winners of the regional primary elections, which current or past MKs may not participate in.
A number of members on the Likud list waiting in the wings gathered in Beit Shemesh on Monday at the home of former MK and No. 39 on the list Keti Shitrit to plan how to get more ministers to resign.
Other than Shitrit, these included Tsega Melaku (No. 37), Tel Aviv regional representative Osher Shkalim (38), winner of the spot reserved for young candidates Moshe Pasal (40), regional council representative Sasson Gueta (41), Judea and Samaria representative Avichai Boaron (42), Druze representative Afif Abed (43) and others.
Netanyahu himself was also pressuring ministers to resign, according to Channel 12.
Why are Likud MKs refusing to resign for Norwegian Law?
There are two main reasons the ministers are refraining from resigning, according to Likud sources. The first is that the moment a regional representative enters the Knesset, he or she must run in the next primary election in the national list. This crowds the playing field and will make it harder for the ministers to make it back into the next Knesset.
The second is that resigning the Knesset means losing leverage to gain political capital ahead of the national budget, which is currently being composed. Ministers who resign from the Knesset lose the ability to threaten Netanyahu or Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich that they will oppose the budget or some other bill if their ministries’ budgetary demands are not met.
For other coalition parties, the issue does not seem to be a problem. Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Ya’acov Margi and Minister in the Education Ministry Haim Biton from Shas resigned on Tuesday, making way for two new MKs to enter the Knesset – Erez Malul and Semion Moshiashvili.
Other ministers who have resigned from the Knesset under the Norwegian Law so far include Labor Minister Yoav Ben-Tzur of Shas, Housing and Construction Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf of United Torah Judaism and Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu of Otzma Yehudit.