A Government of Vindictiveness

Haaretz Editorial
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Supreme Court President Esther Hayut (C) at a hearing about the Knesset committees.
Supreme Court President Esther Hayut (C) at a hearing about the Knesset committees.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Haaretz Editorial

It’s strange that the members of the Bennett-Lapid government, who were elected to lead Israel on a promise of political and cultural change, needed the High Court of Justice to make it clear to them, as it did Thursday, that the Knesset committees’ makeup is distorted and unfair, and that they should change it for a better balance between the coalition and opposition.

It’s also strange that the accepted position was that of Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy, of Yesh Atid, a central coalition party. This indicates that more than making a change, the coalition members are seeking revenge on the opposition for years of abuse.

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The coalition placed its own members in most of the major committees, while the opposition members made do with panels of secondary importance. This arrangement blatantly flouted the principle of representation based on the factions’ size.

The House Committee, which determines procedure in the Knesset, consists of nine coalition members and only six opposition members. The Finance Committee – one of the most important, influential panels – has only two Likud members among its 16 members, even though Likud makes up a quarter of the Knesset members. The coalition also kept the Economic Affairs Committee, which was traditionally held by the opposition.

The coalition also revealed, apropos the political bullying, its opinion on matters such as science, immigrant absorption and the status of women. It placed eight opposition members and only three coalition members in the Science and Technology Committee. Likud received six of the 11 places in the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, while the opposition will chair only three panels – State Control, Science and Technology and the Status of Women.

There’s no disputing that during their term in the coalition, Benjamin Netanyahu and his government colleagues rode roughshod over the state’s norms. They contaminated the political system and poisoned the wells of democracy. But the answer to that defective culture cannot be to continue the destruction in other ways.

Instead of waiting for the court’s orders, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his partner Yair Lapid would do well to balance the committees’ makeup and restore the honor that is running out of the state’s legislative body. 

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

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