End to Knesset Not Likely Before Winter Session

Whether a bill for dissolving the Knesset will be approved during the summer session depends on which committee will deal with it, after the proposal passes a preliminary reading, Haaretz learned Wednesday.

Next Wednesday a preliminary reading is expected on several bills calling for dissolving the Knesset. Bills that pass are sent to a committee to prepare it for a first reading.

Two Knesset committees appear relevant in this case: the House Committee, since the question at hand is the dissolution of the current plenum, and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, which dealt with issues of dissolving the Knesset in the past.

The chairman of the Knesset House Committee, MK David Tal (Kadima) said Wednesday that "it is very possible that if I do not want the dissolution of the Knesset, I will only hold a discussion of the issue in the next [winter] session." The winter session begins in November.

Between the preliminary vote for a bill to dissolve the Knesset and the conclusion of the summer session, there are only five weeks. Therefore, even if Tal delays deliberations for two-to-three weeks, he will be able to prevent dissolving the Knesset in this session.

Tal believes the bills for dissolving the Knesset will not pass the preliminary reading.

However, the chairman of the Constitution Committee, MK Menachem Ben-Sasson, a loyal Kadima ally of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was surprising when he said that "I will give the [dissolution] bill priority. If the majority in the Knesset decides it does not want to serve [the public], then there is no need to hold them back."

After hearing Tal's view, Ben-Sasson said it will be possible to tell whether the Knesset really wants its dissolution on the basis of the committee before which the matter will be brought.

There is a catch: Whenever there is no agreement on which committee a bill should go to, the matter is brought before the House Committee. Therefore, MK Tal will still be in a position to delay the process.

In theory a committee chairman can delay debate on a bill for six months, but if the Knesset approves a bill with a majority of more than 61 MKs, then MK Tal would come under enormous pressure, which could involve petitions to the Supreme Court.

The question of a majority depends on the Labor Party.