Editorial |

Prevent Last-minute Legislation

Miri Regev's 'cultural loyalty' bill is only one example of dangerous legislation that could be advanced before the Netanyahu coalition government reaches the end of its road

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu departs after speaking to the press in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on November 18, 2018.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu departs after speaking to the press in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on November 18, 2018. Credit: AFP
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

Even though the decision to call early elections hasn’t yet been made official, it’s only a matter of time until the Netanyahu government reaches the end of its road. In the time that remains, it’s vital to prevent last-minute legislation and stop the long list of destructive flagship laws being pushed by Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition. On Monday, Culture Minister Miri Regev will try to drag the coalition into passing her pet project, the so-called “cultural loyalty” bill, which allows her to reduce state funding to certain cultural institutions or even stop it entirely. The bill is supposed to come up for its final vote in the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee, and from there it will go to the plenum for final approval.

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Regev is expected to have trouble mustering the necessary 61 Knesset members to pass the bill in its final votes, especially given the opposition of Likud MK Benny Begin. We must hope this expectation proves well-founded. The only place for this terrible bill – which essentially seeks to buy political bias in culture with cash – is in the garbage can. And this is especially true when the governing coalition promoting this bill is running on its last drop of gas.

But the coalition also has a long list of other bad bills awaiting final approval, including one that would let the Knesset override Supreme Court rulings. Like the cultural loyalty bill, this legislation, too, ought to be shredded. And that’s true regardless of whether it is ultimately submitted in its broad version, which would allow the Knesset to reenact any law overturned by the High Court of Justice, or in its narrow version, which would only allow the Knesset to reenact sections of the Prevention of Infiltration Law quashed by the court. Either way, this bill is contemptible.

Finance Minister and Kulanu party chairman Moshe Kahlon opposed the broad version of the bill but apparently supported the narrow version. Yet he needs to understand that if he supports a bill whose purpose is to override the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty, he will be breaking his promise to prevent the Supreme Court from being undermined. Given his desire to dismantle the government and call early elections, he must not lend a hand to this terrible bill.

A proposed bill that makes it easier for ministers to appoint legal advisers who identify with their policies, castrates the gatekeepers and effectively violates the checks and balances of Israeli democracy is yet another piece of legislation that a Knesset whose days are numbered has no moral authority to pass. This is a bill that even the attorney general has criticized harshly. And the so-called “Gideon Sa’ar law,” which would force the president to assign the task of forming the government to the party leader supported by the largest number of MKs, must also be rejected at this time.

Netanyahu’s right-wing government is dying. This wave of ugly legislation must be allowed to die with it.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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