Vote to Dissolve Knesset Cannot Be Annulled, Says Parliamentary Legal Adviser

Despite expressing his legal opinion in special session, members from both Likud and Kahol Lavan have been inquiring whether law to disband Knesset can be voided to prevent upcoming election

Eyal Yinon speaks at a committee meeting in the Knesset, January 26, 2019.
Emil Salman

Members of both Likud and Kahol Lavan have been inquiring whether the law to disband the Knesset can be voided to prevent the September 17 election, despite the Knesset legal adviser's position that the law could not be reversed.

Speaking at a committee convened to discuss the Knesset's termination three weeks ago, the legal adviser to the Knesset, Eyal Yinon, told the outgoing Knesset members that the vote to dissolve the Knesset is a point of no return. From the moment they voted in favor of disbanding the Knesset a new election cannot be put off and the law cannot be tossed aside to preclude the election, he said.

Despite his clarifications, since the official announcement of the September 17 election members of both Likud and Kahol Lavan, as well as other parties, have been inquiring if there's a way to cancel the law and allow the outgoing Knesset to hold its seat.

Yinon never published a formal opinion on the matter, but Knesset sources suspect he will not change his position.

Sources in the Knesset said that the prime minister could push for a law cancelling the Knesset’s dispersal despite Yinon’s view, however the High Court of Justice would most likely block the move. Sources told Haaretz the chance of passing a law that would annul the dissolvement is practically zero.

The legal question is whether the law dissolving the Knesset is like any other law, which means that a majority of 61 Knesset members could cancel it, or whether it is the type of law that once enacted, cannot be voided. Existing legislation does not provide a concrete answer, but obviously the law has special status, the sources said.

“Disbanding the Knesset is an irrevocable action that the Knesset [itself] takes and that status should be acknowledged,” another source said. “Enabling the Knesset to void its move to disband itself would render the public hostage to political whims and would enable the parties to extort the prime minister.”

The Knesset members themselves seem to realize the probabilities. Miki Zohar of Likud told Haaretz that he had heard rustles on the matter, but he realizes that it’s legally all but impossible. Before any such move could happen, Zohar said, a coalition with a clear majority had to be formed.

A source in Kahol Lavan told Haaretz that there is no way they would support canceling the September election if that means the establishment of another Netanyahu government. Similarly, there is no way the Likud under Netanyahu would sit in a government headed by Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz.

So the whole scenario is ludicrous, he said. The only exception that might justify putting off the second election this year would be an emergency national-unity government because of some dramatic development, he said: “and I don’t see one on the horizon.”

“The desperate attempt to cancel the election and reach deals with the Arab parties proves that Netanyahu has reached a dead end,” said Gaby Ashkenazi, a former army chief of staff from Kahol Lavan.

Orna Barbivai, another ex-general who joined Kahol Lavan, tweeted that even 119 wise men can’t retrieve a stone thrown into the well by a fool – and the Likud knows well why it’s running scared.