Knesset Dispute Delays Bill to Make Way for New Kahol Lavan Lawmakers

The bill would permit Gantz's party to have five ministers resign their Knesset seats and have others take them over – a matter of importance to the party, because it currently has only three lawmakers who aren't cabinet members

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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The Israeli Knesset, May 17, 2020
The Israeli Knesset, May 17, 2020Credit: Adina Wallman / Speaker of the Knesset
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The so-called Norwegian bill, which would enable cabinet members to resign as Knesset members and have their seats taken by new legislators, was stricken from the Knesset’s agenda on Wednesday rather than coming up for a preliminary vote.

The vote was deferred as a result of a disagreement over the composition of the Knesset’s standing committees, which review legislation before it gets voted on by the full Knesset. The delay was the result of a dispute between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and Deputy Prime Minister Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan regarding which Knesset committees will be headed by a member of the Knesset opposition.

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The Norwegian bill is expected to be reviewed by the Law, Constitution and Justice Committee, which is slated to be headed by Yakov Asher of United Torah Judaism, part of the government coalition.

Three Knesset terms back, a version of the Norwegian bill had been introduced that only permitted one cabinet minister from each party to resign from the Knesset in favor of a new party colleague, but the new version would permit Kahol Lavan to have five ministers resign their Knesset seats and have other ministers take them over – a matter of importance to the party, because it currently has only three MKs who are not cabinet members a matter of importance to the party, because it currently has only three MKs who are not cabinet members. It is therefore currently only these three of the party’s Knesset members that can become members of parliamentary committees. If Kahol Lavan members of the cabinet are permitted to resign their Knesset seats, it would expand the number of its Knesset members who are not cabinet members.

The new version includes a complicated formula when it comes to cabinet members from other parties. Likud could have two ministers resign from the Knesset, freeing up one of the seats for Osnat Mark, who had been ranked too low on the Likud slate in the election to become an MK. She would now become a Knesset member and be able to take her place on the Judicial Appointments Committee as provided for in the coalition agreement. The new version would bar cabinet minsters who resign their seats from then demanding their seats back if they later resign from the cabinet.

The application of the Norwegian law to Kahol Lavan is complicated because the party was formed by an alliance of several parties, but the alliance broke up when Gantz agreed to join a coalition government with Netanyahu. When Knesset members resign the vacated seat is taken by the next candidate on the party’s electoral slate.

That means that if five Kahol Lavan cabinet members resign their seats, two of the new MKs would be from Gantz’s Hosen L’Israel faction and three from Yesh Atid-Telem, which refused to join the government and is now in opposition. Kahol Lavan is attempting to woo over two of the three prospective Yesh Atid-Telem legislators.

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