Knesset to begin with Norwegian bill largely unimplemented

The party most seriously resisting implementing the bill is Likud, where no minister or deputy minister has agreed to quit the Knesset in favor of the next name on the party's list.

The Knesset  (photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Oslo peace process is not the only export from Norway to Israel that is facing tough times ahead of Monday’s return of the Knesset from its extended summer and holiday recess.
So is the so-called Mini-Norwegian Law, which allows ministers and deputy ministers to quit the Knesset and enable the next candidate on their party’s list to enter, but permits the ministers to return to the legislature if they quit the cabinet.
Based on the model of the Scandinavian country’s government, the bill is meant to increase separation of powers, changing the current situation in which about a third of MKs cannot fully function as parliamentarians because they are ministers or deputy ministers, and a central part of a lawmaker’s job is to oversee the executive branch of government.
The five coalition parties eligible to implement the law are Likud, Kulanu, Shas, United Torah Judaism, and Bayit Yehudi. But as of late Sunday, there were no set plans for a minister in any of the parties to join with Bayit Yehudi, which implemented the law last Wednesday when party chairman Naftali Bennett quit to enable the return of former MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli.
Shas leader Arye Deri and Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon are supposed to resign to permit the entrance of former MKs Avraham Michaeli and Akram Hasson. But sources in both parties said it was unclear when the resignations would take place.
The other political figure for whom the Norwegian law was passed was former United Torah Judaism MK Ya’acov Asher, who served his first and only term in the last Knesset.
Asher was the seventh-placed candidate for United Torah Judaism in the 2013 general election and he stepped down as mayor of Bnei Brak to take up his position as MK when UTJ took seven mandates for the first time ever in the 19th Knesset.
UTJ received only six seats in the current Knesset, meaning that Asher, who remained in seventh place on the candidates list, lost his job. The UTJ Knesset faction is composed of the hassidic Agudat Yisrael party and the non-hassidic Degel Hatorah party, with Asher a member of the latter.
For Asher to return to the Knesset, Aguda’s Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush would have to resign as an MK.
Sources in UTJ denied reports Sunday night that a deal had been reached by which Porush would quit for Asher, but Degel would give Aguda a mayoral post in a haredi town. But they said negotiations were ongoing to complete an agreement that would permit Asher to enter the Knesset.
The party most seriously resisting implementing the bill is Likud, where no minister or deputy minister has agreed to quit the Knesset in favor of the next name on the party’s list, Tel Aviv gay activist Amir Ohana. Likud sources said the reason the ministers and deputies are so reluctant to resign is that in a coalition of 61 MKs, Knesset members have inordinate power ahead of the approval of the 2015- 2016 state budget.
“When there is a narrow majority, every MK is a king,” a Likud source said. “It is hard to get them to give up their powerful finger that they can bring to the prime minister to get whatever they want before the budget passes, even if it means that they will still have to come to the Knesset at 2 a.m. in their pajamas to vote.”
Ohana said he is patient and he will continue coming to Likud faction meetings, even though he is not yet an MK, to ensure that his voice will be heard.
“I don’t know when or how, but I think I will be in soon,” he said.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.