'Ungovernable' coalition stumbles on governability law in committee

Proceedings ground to a near stand-still in the Knesset Law Committee Tuesday after the panel's chairman David Rotem discovered that the coalition is fractured on the subject of the so-called Slomiansky Law. The bill, one of the "governance laws" sponsored by the government to solidify its coalition within the Knesset, had already met with delays earlier this week, and was once again stuck in committee after members decided to divide the bill into composite parts. The legislation would allow one minister from each party in the coalition to resign from the Knesset in favor of the next name on their party's Knesset candidates list, and then return to the Knesset if they quit the cabinet. The division of the bill required a vote on the house floor, and due to that fact, the committee once again could not vote the bill forward for its second and third (final) readings in the plenum. Initially in Tuesday's meeting, which was punctuated by calls from Kadima MKs Yoel Hasson, Yohanan Plessner and Shlomo Molla condemning the bill, not enough coalition members arrived to guarantee approval in committee. Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) - who is an ardent supporter of the measure - was further confounded when Shas MKs, angry that one of their amendments was not accepted as part of the bill, announced that they would reject the bill in its entirety. And they were not alone. In the midst of the hearing, MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) called out to the warring lawmakers, "Kadima, Likud, Labor... you're all the same, all corrupt," and strode out of the room. Rotem, not willing to let the firebrand have the last word, yelled after him, "Of course, you are the pinnacle of morality... an MK who acts out against IDF soldier," referring to an incident on June 1 when Ben-Ari allegedly tried to block a Border Police vehicle that was carrying two young right-wing activists arrested during a disturbance at the Yitzhar junction near Nablus. The wrangling to keep the bill afloat was so heated that even after the hearing, MKs who had attended the meeting were not sure what was the next step in the process. The delay in the bill - even though coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's personal assistant Perah Lerner were both present to try to cut the coalition's losses - was yet another setback for the coalition. The bill - also known as the "mini-Norwegian law" - was expected to pass the Knesset plenum in its second and third readings later this week, but will now join the "Mofaz Law" in being brought to the floor next week, during the last week of the Knesset session. That bill would allow 7 MKs to split from their party even if they constitute less than a third of its lawmakers.