Netanyahu's Plan for Cameras at Polling Stations Fails to Pass Knesset Panel

Knesset's Arrangement Committee comprised of 24 members reaches tie on vote to expedite bill's passing, striking it down ■ Likud believes the bill has been finally buried

Netanyahu with Likud ministers Gilad Erdan, Moshe Kahlon and Yisrael Katz at the Knesset plenum, May 2019
Emil Salman

The bill promoted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party to place cameras in polling stations was rejected on Monday after the Knesset's Arrangement Committee comprised of 24 members reached a tie on the vote, and will not go to first reading. (For the latest election polls – click here)

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The committee was supposed to approve expediting the legislation process, which originally calls for 45 days to elapse between the bill's drafting and its vote in the Knesset.

Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker Yulia Melinovsky joined the opposition in voting against the move, thus blocking the bill's promotion.

>> 'Arab voter fraud'? What's really behind Netanyahu's push for cameras in polling stations | Explained 

The bill was laid before the Knesset following the vote, but would not be allowed to be voted on before the mandatory 45-day period. 

Likud believes that the bill has been finally buried. It seems there is no legal solution allowing the bill to be brought before the Knesset ahead of September 17, and Likud prefers to avoid an additional humiliation.

Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh said in response that the "Camera bill failed and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is waging a battle against the Arab society, the legal system and democracy itself. Bibis' self-victimization is nearing its end."

Hadash lawmaker Aida Touma-Suleiman said that "We've won and Netanyahu was defeated. The right wing's underhanded opportunism is an attempt to destroy the remnants of democracy, which has so far failed.     

Earlier, Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said that his party opposes a bill promoted by the government which would allow political representatives to film at voting ballots in the September 17 election, saying monitoring should be unified and not conducted by "Netanyahu's private militia." 

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman at the Knesset, Jerusalem, September 9, 2019.

According to the proposed draft bill, the representative of parties running in next week's election would have been able to record every conversation being held between members of polling station committees as well as between voters "at the polling station and near it."  

In a statement, Lieberman said he supports monitoring the voting process both in the Arab sector and in ultra-Orthodox communities. "There must be homogeneous supervision at all polling stations."

Lieberman said his party is interested in having the election monitored, while adding that the proposed draft bill is meant to disrupt the proper course of the voting process.

"Try to imagine a polling station where ten parties have placed cameras, and everybody is filming everybody," Lieberman told reports.

"There must be a unified approach toward all sectors and locations. It cannot be that those monitoring [the voting process] will be appointed by Netanyahu's private militia," Lieberman said.

He added that current bill is not egalitarian, since Liked has a bigger budget due to the size of the party, and therefore will be able to send a lot more observers to the polling stations than other parties.

The former defense minister called the bill a "smoke screen to divert the discussion from Netanyahu's submission to terror, to the ultra-Orthodox and to the messianic Jews."

Earlier, Likud said they intend continue promoting the bill at least in first reading in order to cast responsibility for it not passing on Lieberman.

The party tried to formulate a legal opinion according to which a 61-seat majority is not needed to approve the bill, while a simple majority of the Knesset is sufficient.

"The Knesset secretariat announced that a 61-seat majority is needed since the bill to place cameras at polling stations requires an amendment to the Basic Law: The Knesset, which states election must be secret and equal nationwide. If we establish Basic law is not violated, we won't need a 61-seat majority," a Likud official involved in promoting the bill said.