Why is the new coalition deal so controversial?

Many of the most scandalous parts of the agreement require special bills to pass before the government will even be formed.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet to discuss possible political frameworks, October 27 2019 (photo credit: ELAD MALKA)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet to discuss possible political frameworks, October 27 2019
(photo credit: ELAD MALKA)
The coalition agreement signed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Monday evening faced immediate criticism, not only because it took so long but also because of what it contains.
Many of the most scandalous parts of the agreement require special bills to pass before the government will even be formed. Others will face challenges in the High Court of Justice, and if overruled, could result in more legislation.
The following are the most controversial clauses in the agreement:
Government's size: There are expected to be as many as 36 ministers and 16 deputy ministers appointed. Each will have offices, staff, higher salaries and other perks. While this will ensure their employment and that of their future aides, there are more than a million Israelis who currently lack jobs. The reason for the size of the government is that Blue and White insisted on having an equal number of ministers as the Right, and Netanyahu did not want to fire current ministers.
Norwegian Law: Besides the 52 ministers and deputies as well as the Knesset speaker, there would only be 25 functioning Knesset members out of the 78 in the coalition (assuming two MKs from Labor join). Those 25 MKs would constantly have to run between different Knesset committees to do the grunt work of the parliament against the 42 MKs in the opposition. So the coalition agreement allows cabinet ministers to quit the Knesset and the next candidate on the party list to enter. The law would be changed so that in Blue and White, there would only be allies of Gantz that enter the Knesset, bypassing candidates from the Yesh Atid and Telem parties that are in the opposition.
Judicial Selection Committee: The committee that selects judges has representatives from the cabinet, coalition and opposition. The representatives from the cabinet and coalition will be from Netanyahu's Likud. The representative from the opposition will be Tzvi Hauser, a former Netanyahu cabinet secretary whose views are identical to Likud on legal issues. He ran with Blue and White but is currently in the two-MK Derech Eretz faction.
Key committees reserved for coalition: Knesset committees are used to oversee the government; in the past, key committees were headed by the opposition. This time, Hauser will pretend to be in the opposition as head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. The Knesset Law Committee, which oversees key legal issues, will be headed by an MK from Likud. The powerful Finance Committee, which was in the hands of Yisrael Beytenu for three weeks, will go back to United Torah Judaism.  Even the committee formed to oversee the government's handling of the coronavirus will be headed by a coalition MK.
Sensitive legal appointments: Despite his three criminal indictments, Netanyahu has veto rights over the appointment of a new attorney-general, state's attorney and police inspector-general. Controversial acting state attorney Dan Eldad, who was appointed by outgoing justice minister Amir Ohana, will keep his post for at least another six months, before Blue and White's new justice minister Avi Nissenkorn will be able to appoint anyone. The police chief will be appointed by the minister most loyal to Netanyahu and his wife, Sara: new Internal Security Minister Miri Regev.
Second official residence: Both Netanyahu and Gantz will be entitled to an official residence funded by the state during the entire three years. That means that when Netanyahu leaves office in October 2021, presumably his villa in Caesarea will become an all-expenses paid property of Israel, with an entire taxpayer-funded staff serving Netanyahu, Sara, and if he still lives there, their son Yair. They will all be entitled to bodyguards wherever they go – even if Yair goes to another strip club.
Automatic election if no Netanyahu: If for whatever reason, the High Court of Justice does not let Netanyahu remain prime minister, there would be new elections, which currently are almost impossible to carry out due to the coronavirus. This clause ties the hands of any judges who intended to intervene. Even if they ruled that Netanyahu cannot form the next government, he may not abide by the decision.


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