Draft of Economic Arrangements Bill under fire

Knesset speaker slams clause that would threaten existing legislation; says law has become a "Golem."

Rivlin 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski  [file])
Rivlin 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
As the final countdown began to Monday's opening of the Knesset's summer session, MK Shelly Yacimovich's leak of the draft copy of the 2009 economic arrangements bill continued to reverberate. Over the weekend, Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) became the first member of the ruling party to speak out publicly against the bill. Rivlin, while his party was in the opposition, had vocally opposed the bill, and over the weekend the speaker reiterated that "everything should be done in order to reduce the bill and to make sure that its contents only reflect its real purpose - to ensure a stable budget for the State of Israel." The budget - together with the economic arrangements bill - is slated to come up for approval during the coming Knesset session. Although 2009 is over four months old, there still has been no budget passed for the year. "Although it is difficult to express an opinion on the bill before it is submitted to the Knesset, on a level of principle, we must prevent a situation in which the bill is used as a tool by the government to pass reforms that it cannot pass using the usual and complicated legislative process," Rivlin said late Thursday. He added that he will not allow the government to bypass the Knesset, even if the state is currently in the midst of an economic crisis. "It is the government's duty to govern, but without bypassing the Knesset. This principle is still in effect, even though we are in the midst of a global economic crisis that demands governmental steps, some of which must be carried out immediately." Although he did not admit to reading the draft copy of the bill that was leaked to Yacimovich, Rivlin referred indirectly to criticism that clauses of the bill essentially canceled out legislation already passed in the Knesset. "Things that were approved through the complex process will not be canceled with a swipe of hand," he said. "We will look through the bill thoroughly. It will not be examined for thickness, but rather through the content of each clause." Rivlin did, however, offer a veiled criticism of the previous, Kadima-run administration, adding that the bill "was not created by the current administration, and it has been used by many governments. It has turned into a golem that attacks its creator, and into a tool that eats away at the status of the Knesset. "It is exactly because of this that I acted in the past - and will continue to act now - to reduce it in a learned manner, without 'breaking the tools' toward either extreme."