New Election Will Delay Passage of Flagship Legislation of Right Wing

Due to the dissolution of the 21st Knesset, the next Knesset won't subject to the Continuity Law, which allows a new Knesset to resume the legislative process for bills approved in first reading in the previous Knesset

Likud ministers meet to discuss the dissolution of the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 30, 2019.
Emil Salman

Bills that passed the first of three or four mandatory votes in the Knesset that was dissolved before the April election will have to be legislated from scratch by the next Knesset.

As a result, pet projects of the right such as the loyalty in culture bill, the legal advisers bill and the flag bill, as well as controversial bills such as the pornography bill and the child custody bill, will be stalled for months.

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The Law of Continuity of Deliberation of Bills, which was passed in 1964 and amended in 1993, allows a new Knesset to resume, from exactly the point at which the process had stopped, the legislative process for draft laws that were approved in the first reading in the previous Knesset. At least one of the bill’s sponsors in the previous Knesset must serve in the new Knesset for the legislative process to continue.

According to the national legislation database, more than 150 bills passed a first reading in the 20th Knesset and could have in theory been subject to the continuity law. However, the law refers solely to continuity between two consecutive Knessets. The dissolution of the 21st Knesset before the cabinet and the Knesset committees were even established is expected to scuttle the possibility of advancing these bills in the 22nd Knesset, to be elected in September, unless some particularly creative legal solution is found.

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Culture Minister Miri Regev’s loyalty in culture bill aimed to give the culture minister the authority to reduce or deny funding to a cultural institution due to “activities against the state’s principles.” In November, after she realized that she didn’t have a majority to pass it, Regev convened an aggressive press conference, attacking the coalition partners who had betrayed her. Supporters of the law, though, said at the time that this was a temporary setback; since the bill had passed one Knesset reading, Regev could wait until after the election and then try to expedite its passing.

The legal advisers bill, which had been advanced by then-Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (but sponsored by others as well), is another example. As part of the ruling coalition’s effort to weaken the official gatekeepers, the Knesset was advancing two parallel bills to facilitate the appointment of ministry legal advisers who wouldn’t scuttle controversial policies being advanced by their ministers. The government version of the bill, which passed its first reading, changed the way legal advisers were chosen from a tender to a search committee, such that the minister could have greater influence on who was chosen.

There were other controversial, albeit less “political,” bills that passed first reading and were expected to be acted upon shortly after the government was formed. One was the child custody bill which would have reduced the age of automatic child custody for mothers in cases of divorce, among other changes. The bill was subject to stormy debates and the camps for and against crossed coalition-opposition lines. In a rare move, the bill passed its first reading with contradictory clauses regarding the age and scope of custody to be awarded each parent, with the intent of having the Knesset decide among them before the bill became law.

The pornography law, which in its earliest version would have forced internet service providers to block access to pornography websites unless a subscriber asked to opt in, in the end required ISPs to provide subscribers with the option of a free service that would filter out offensive sites.

The flag bill, sponsored by MK Oren Hazan, among others, called for a fine of 14,000 shekels ($3,900) to be imposed on organizers of public events attended by state officials at which the state flag was not displayed in a prominent place.

Various bills that may have generated fewer headlines but could have had significant impact will now also have to go back to the drawing board. These included, for example, a bill that makes assaulting medical personnel a crime; a bill that would have made it unnecessary to bring a disabled child to a medical committee to receive a tax exemption and or a bill that would have regulated the methods of dealing with construction waste.