Gantz Delays Approving Lawmakers' Bills, Including One to Bar Netanyahu From Acting as PM

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Benny Gantz arrives after exit polls for the Israeli elections at party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 2, 2020.
Benny Gantz arrives after exit polls for the Israeli elections at party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 2, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod

Knesset Speaker MK Benny Gantz has not yet approved any of the hundreds of bills put forth by individual lawmakers, a step that is necessary before further legislation by the Knesset, including one that would prevent a Knesset member from forming a government while he is under criminal indictment.

It is a bill that Gantz, who is also chairman of Kahol Lavan and is in coalition negotiations with Netanyahu, promised his voters he would do in the past three election campaigns.

The Knesset rules state that the speaker and his deputies must discuss all bills to ensure that they are legal before they are presented to the Knesset. Only after such discussion has taken place, and a further 45-day waiting period, may Knesset members present their bills for preliminary legislation by the Knesset.

People in Gantz’s inner circle said that the bills had not been approved due to a technical delay because of Passover, and in any case if this were an ordinary Knesset term, the Knesset would be on Passover break, when bills cannot be advanced at all.

A Knesset official affiliated with the center-left bloc said in response: “These are not ordinary times. Gantz himself intended to advance a number of bills at this time to prevent Netanyahu from heading the next government. From the moment he decided to join a coalition with Netanyahu, he lost interest in them. Otherwise, he would himself see to it that the bills were discussed and advanced in the full Knesset and in committee.”

MK Merav Michaeli of Labor was surprised to discover that the bill she had proposed, restricting a prime minister to two terms of office had not been presented to the Knesset. This was a pledge that Kahol Lavan had also given to voters during the campaign. On Thursday, against the backdrop of advanced coalition talks, Michaeli asked the head of the Arrangements Committee, MK Avi Nissenkorn (Kahol Lavan), to exempt her bill from the requirement of approval by the speaker, which would have allowed it to come to a preliminary vote in the next few days. However, because of Gantz’s delay, the bill was not presented to the Knesset speaker and therefore Michaeli’s request to shorten the process could not be discussed.

Michaeli quickly asked Gantz to approve the bill immediately. “The Knesset and its members are the legislative authority. It is inconceivable that the government can present laws while members of Knesset cannot. I call on you and demand that private members’ bills be approved [for further legislation] immediately.”

Another bill that Gantz and the Knesset presidium have not approved for legislation is an initiative announced last week by MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid Telem) that would allow the Netanyahu government to remain in office for another six months in light of the corona crisis. Lapid’s bill was intended to make it possible for Gantz not to join the coalition at this time. Gantz’s office said that he intended to approve the private members’ bills over the next two days. The office said approval had been delayed due to Gantz’s pledge not to have the Knesset operate during Passover on any issue that was not an emergency.

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