Likud MK Eliyahu Revivo on Sunday said he is retracting a bill he proposed in December to change how the Central Elections Committee chairman is elected to counter the opposition’s “conspiracy theories.”
The bill proposes to change the identity of the committee. Instead of a sitting Supreme Court justice chosen by the chief justice, the committee would choose one candidate out of at least three proposed by the Knesset speaker. The vote would require a two-thirds majority of the committee’s members.
The Central Elections Committee is formed within 60 days of the induction of a newly formed Knesset to carry out the election process for the next Knesset. The committee’s current chairman is Justice Noam Solberg. The members of the committee are representatives of the parliamentary groups in the outgoing Knesset. A party receives a slot in the committee for every four mandates.
The committee chairman rules on appeals filed by committee members on issues related to the election process. Members can appeal to the High Court of Justice against the committee chairman’s decisions.
Revivo’s proposal would give the Knesset speaker of the outgoing Knesset coalition the power to choose the committee’s next chairman. The reason for this appears in the bill’s explanatory section that it does not make sense for the High Court to rule on appeals against a committee chairman who is a member of their own bench.
The bill was identical to a similar proposal put forward by current Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi (Likud) in the previous Knesset and was proposed by Revivo on December 26. It remained under the radar until Sunday, when it began to make waves on social media after a former Labor Party official wrote about it.
Opposition members deemed the bill an attempt by the coalition to politicize the committee.
“Now, the Likud is trying to take over the Central Elections Committee,” opposition leader Yair Lapid wrote. “Why beat around the bush? They should announce that there will be no elections in Israel unless they win, and let’s get this over with.”
Religious Zionist Party MK Simcha Rothman, a member of the coalition, also opposed the bill.
While the criticism was justified, changes to the committee should only be made with broad consensus, since it is the only subject in which MKs have a built-in conflict of interest, he said.
Revivo said he was retracting the bill due to a request by Likud MK Ofir Katz, the coalition whip, “as a team player in the Likud and to counter the opposition’s conspiracy theories.”