Yisrael Beitienu Promoting Bill That Would Make It Harder to Topple Government

Lieberman calls on Netanyahu to support a bill that would necessitate 61 out of 120 MKs for a no-confidence motion to reach the Knesset floor. Yacimovich: Bill inconsistent with Jewish, democratic values.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Yisrael Beiteinu is promoting a bill that would make it harder for the Knesset to raise no-confidence motions. According to the bill, such motions will reach the floor only if supported by 61 out of 120 members of the Knesset.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is scheduled to debate the proposed bill that includes changes in the governmental system on Monday.

The bill determines that no-confidence motions would be submitted by at least 61 MK's, and would include an alternative candidate as prime minister. If the proposed candidate will be unable to form a new government, the government will remain in power despite the vote.

The bill also includes the raising of the electoral threshold from 2 to 4 percent and limiting the number of government ministers to 19 (prime minister included) and four deputy ministers.

The bill was initiated by Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), who was joined by party members MKs Robert Ilatov and Hamad Amar. The bill is considered one of party's main banners in the current Knesset.

Last Monday party leader Avidgor Lieberman called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support the bill, instead of the referendum initiative he currently supports.

"The bill is the realization of our promise to the voters to strengthen governability and the Knesset," Rotem said. "It is unacceptable that the prime minister and government be subject to endless blackmail and parliamentary stints."

The raising of the electoral threshold is expected to force the Arab parties to unite in order to be represented in the next Knesset. MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) did not rule out such a move, but argued that they shouldn't be forced to do so.
"This bill is intended to harm democracy in the name of governability," he said on Wednesday. "Smaller parties, who received less than 4 percent have never caused coalition crises or toppled governments. The large crises were always caused by large parties. In our public we're not considered small parties. More than a quarter of Arab voters voted for Balad and a similar number voted for Hadash and the United Arab List-Ta’al. This bill will damage representativeness and lead to gagging of voices."

Labor leader MK Shelly Yacimovich also criticized the bill, calling it undemocratic. "Even as he is occupying the defendant's seat in court and banned from being a minister, Lieberman is brewing a dictatorial legislation well suited to his personality and to the character of his party, but is inconsistent with the values of the declaration of independence and the concept of a Jewish and democratic state," she said.

Yisrael Beiteinu, Yacimovich added, along with Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid, are "two parties that haven't the slightest indication of being democratic, are ruled by one person without any democratic mechanism and without internal democratic elections."

MK Eli Yishai (Shas) said that the bill itself demonstrates the importance of no-confidence motions. "There's no doubt that such legislation would be welcomed in several South American states. It only stressed the need for no-confidence motions and the need for the Knesset to offer some of its members introductory lessons in democracy and citizenship."

A similar view was expressed by MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) by saying that "it seems that the move by Lieberman's party hopes to bring a change that would leave no significance to the term 'opposition.' Whoever initiates such moves needs to be reeducated as to the meaning of democracy. A majority in the Knesset should be used to govern not to trample the opposition, and the said legislations would seriously damage the most important parliamentary tools the opposition has in its disposal."

Netanyahu, right, and Lieberman at a Likud-Beiteinu faction meeting on March 14, 2013.Credit: Emil Salman
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich opposes Bank Leumi's deal with Nochi Dankner.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

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