By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
Coalition and opposition parties alike sought to take credit on Thursday for sinking the controversial "Jobs bill."
The Shas-sponsored legislation, which drew public criticism because it would have created new positions allegedly designed to reward party insiders, had foundered earlier this week during a committee hearing.
The bill would have allowed for the appointment of additional paid deputy mayors in cities that have more than 200,000 residents and are not in debt. The cost to the public purse was estimated at NIS 1 million per year per additional deputy mayor.
As public and parliamentary protest mounted throughout the week, the Likud delayed the bill in the Shas-controlled Interior Affairs Committee. MK Danny Danon (Likud) threw the wrench in Shas's plans when he asked for a delay of the bill's final committee votes to ensure that all parties, and not just Shas, would be able to benefit from the law.
The Prime Minister's Office reported on Thursday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had conveyed his opposition to the measure to Shas chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai. The prime minister instructed coalition whip MK Ze'ev Elkin to remove the government's support for the bill.
But opposition lawmakers cast the surprise decision in an altogether different light.
"Kadima expresses great satisfaction from the results of the parliamentary and public communications struggle that it led, and promised that it will continue in the future," the main opposition party said in a statement shortly after the announcement. "This is a significant accomplishment for Kadima and for the opposition, which will continue to reveal and attack any political deals that come from the Netanyahu administration at the public's expense."
"The unholy trinity of Likud, Shas and 'jobs' collapsed under its own political stench," gloated Kadima spokesman Shmulik Dahan. "This is an important public and political message for those who under the cover of public apathy and a coalition majority attempted to buy power while arranging positions for their cronies."
"The government fell once again when the interior minister, Eli Yishai, was forced to announce this morning a cancellation of the Jobs bill. This government is apathetic to the voices coming from the public and tried to pass a law that opens the door to political corruption and to the waste of public funds. It is a pity that the decision came so late, but better than not at all," MK Nahman Shai (Kadima) said.
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