Paz-Pines delays direct election vote

Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines decided against bringing the electoral reform bill he cosponsored to a vote on Wednesday, delaying the vote to a time when it would have a better chance of passing. The bill calls for electing up to half the Knesset in direct, regional elections. It was cosponsored by the top legislators of Kadima, Labor and Likud, with the three largest parties working together in unprecedented cooperation. After the ministerial committee on legislation decided against the bill due to a Shas veto, Paz-Pines vowed to try to pass it as a private member's bill. But he decided Tuesday not to risk bringing it to a vote, because if it fell, he would not be allowed to raise it for another six months. Paz-Pines intends to raise the bill Wednesday on the Knesset floor and bash Shas in his speech, but will not bring it to a vote afterward. Every minister on the committee backed the bill except Minister-without-Portfolio Meshulam Nahari of Shas, who was able to veto it because any coalition partner can block bills that would change a Basic Law, the legislation that forms the cornerstone of an eventual constitution. Sources in the coalition said they consoled Paz-Pines by saying that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann's judicial reforms, which were also backed by Shas, could be prevented in the same manner. Paz-Pines vigorously opposes Friedmann's reforms. Knesset Law Committee chairman Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima), who is also a cosponsor, expressed hope that the bill would still pass before the next election.