What Next? / A Bill That Just Won't Happen

Legislators call private bills that are submitted despite the fact that they have no chance of being approved "law declarations." In all honesty, the proposed change to Basic Law: The Judiciary is also a kind of declaration, even though it has been submitted by the government.

Though the bill has a lot of support, perhaps two-thirds of the Knesset, its chances of being approved in the first reading are small - and in the second and third readings, they are minute.

At the moment, it seems like one of two things can happen after the primary in the Kadima party: General elections will be held or a joint Kadima-Labor coalition will be formed. In any case, the Knesset will not have time to debate and pass such a serious bill. Any attempt to fast-track it would be considered inappropriate; you don't mess with a constitution.

Coalition deals usually have a clause that grant the parties involved a veto vote on any changes to Basic Laws. Therefore, if a Labor-Kadima coalition is formed, the proposal will be shelved. Indeed, it is very possible that if such a coalition is formed, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann will be out. In fact, the only plausible scenario in which the bill will pass is the unlikely case that Shaul Mofaz wins the Kadima primary, and forms a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox parties.

What if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insists on trying to pass the bill in the first reading during the Knesset's winter session? It may well pass the first hurdle. But then it will reach the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, whose chairman has vowed to bury it.