Israel's Ministerial Committee on Legislation Meets After Month-long Break Amid Coalition Crisis

Cancelled meetings prevented the Knesset from voting on government-backed bills

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz prepare to speak at a press conference in central Israel, September 7, 2020.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz prepare to speak at a press conference in central Israel, September 7, 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation convened on Sunday night and approved three bills after nearly a month without meetings, due to the political disagreement between the two main coalition parties.

Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn and Likud Minister David Amsalem convened the committee, which determines how the governing coalition will vote on various draft laws, via telephone conference call. 

The committee approved a bill proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Finance Minister Yisrael Katz, aimed to increase labor force participation and reduce social disparities. The second bill approved, proposed by Katz, deals with amendments to achieve budget targets of 2017-2018. The third, proposed by Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen (Kahol Lavan), is a draft consumer protection law.

Last week, Likud and Kahol Lavan agreed to cancel a meeting of the committee due to a dispute over the bills on the agenda. The cancellation prevented the Knesset from convening last week to vote on government bills.

The committee was scheduled to discuss two draft laws connected to the coronavirus crisis, but at the last minute Likud and Kahol Lavan both imposed vetoes on the other party's legislative proposals. According to committee members who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Likud announced that it would not honor its commitment to permit a vote on a bill sponsored by Kahol Lavan MK Meirav Cohen meant to stop a wave of telemarketing fraud against older Israelis and other vulnerable groups.

The normally weekly cabinet meetings were halted about a month ago amid a coalition crisis over the government budget, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding that a two-year budget be passed, while Defense Minister Benny Gantz insisted on passing a one-year budget.

Last week, the Knesset passed legislation pushing the deadline for passing a budget to December.

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