David Rotem - Tess Scheflan - May 6, 2012
David Rotem. Photo by Tess Scheflan
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The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee tried to advance a bill on Tuesday to extend the terms of Israel's chief rabbis by three months, even though the panel's legal adviser said the vote was illegal. But the attempt by the committee's chairman, MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu ), failed and a revote will be necessary.

The vote had been deemed necessary due to the upcoming election; cabinet members and MKs who are supposed to help select the next chief rabbis will not have time to do so.

Rotem called the vote and the committee approved the bill for its second and third readings in the Knesset so it could be voted on that same day.

The panel's legal adviser, Sigal Kogut, warned at the start of the meeting that the vote was illegal. An official at the meeting said Rotem had "illegally tried to decide facts on the ground."

"Rotem went against the legal opinion on two levels," an official involved in Tuesday's meeting said. "First, he called the meeting at 30 minutes' notice and not four days', as is required. So representatives of the public who oppose the law did not have a chance to be present at the meeting and make their arguments."

The second problem, the official said, was that the meeting had not been approved by the committee that decides which bills move ahead, or by the Knesset speaker.

In the end, to prevent a worsening of the feud and head off a petition to the High Court of Justice, the sides decided that Rotem would not be allowed to present the bill to the Knesset for a vote. He will be forced to hold a new meeting and take a revote based on Kogut's directives.

Rotem declined to comment.