MK Dov Khenin: ”The bill is a major attack on the democratic system”

The Constitution Committee discussed the bills for changing the Basic Laws of Governance. On the table of the committee rests the bill of MK David Rotem and Ronen Hoffman. The bill attempts to limit the number of ministers to 19 and the number of deputy ministers to 4. The bill also raises the minimum percentage of votes needed for parties to enter the Knesset from 2% to 4%. The Bill also proposes to limit votes of no confidence to one per month.

Members or the opposition opposed debating the bill during the Knesset recess. Members of the Knesset asked the Speaker of the Committee, MK David Rotem, to delay the debate to the winter session of the Knesset. After the debate, MK Rotem announced that the members of the opposition told him that it was their intention to exhaust the committee with empty debates and therefore he is cancelling the continuation of the debates that were to be held in the coming days. The meetings to be held next week will go forward as planned.

Professor Avraham Diskin from the Kohelet Institution argued that ”there is no benefit in raising the electoral threshold. It would have been better to raise the electoral threshold to 10% and then there would be a strong majority, but it would be artificial. Diskin said ”I checked and found that from a financial standpoint, the notorious Haredi blackmailing does not occur. The strength of the Haredis is very small. It’s the opposite, the bigger parties are more successful in extorting the government. In the current coalition, the Prime Minister has been forced to answer the demands of a big party, HaBayit HaYehudi.”

MK Dov Khenin, said ”The bill is a major attack against the democratic system. Th process will lead to the rule of a small click over Israeli society. The bill will hurt the rule of the majority in Israel.” Khenin called the governance proposals ”a poisonous and malignant core”.

MK Michal Rozin proposed to give an exemption from the electoral threshold to minority groups. ”Against the principle of governance, there is also the principle of democracy…the price of the changes is greater than the benefit.”

With regards to the proposal to limit the amount of no confidence votes, MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) said ”When I was in the coalition, my party opposed this Norwegian Law. If the law were to pass, we would no longer see ministers in the Knesset. It would create estrangement and distance from the Knesset. Ministers would need to sneak around and not come to the Knesset…the problem of governance is the governing of the officials. ”

In response to Maklev, who also said that these types of discussions should not be held during the recess, MK Rotem asked MK Maklev, referencing the exchange of words in the Knesset plenum between MKs Eichler and Tibi in Arabic and Yiddish, ”Can you bring Eichler to say that in Arabic?” Maklev answered, ”Tibi is here, he`ll say it in Yiddish.”

MK Ahmad Tibi said ”raising the election threshold is likely to lead to the disappearance of certain parties. We are all residents of this house; we know who is advancing this law and why they are advancing this law.” MK Rotem responded to Tibi, ”There are permanent residents and there are temporary residents.” Tibi said to members of the Yesh Atid party ”you are drunk from victory and highly motivated. It`s important for you to remember that in politics, sometimes you`re up and sometimes you`re down. Remember that you will probably need a low election threshold.”

MK Orit Strock said ”The bill is undemocratic and intends to silence the minority groups.”

Regarding the proposal to limit no confidence votes, MK Moshe Mizrahi (Israel Labor Party) asked in a shocked manner ”Has the government ever collapsed after a no confidence vote? What is the goal of this law besides to shut the opposition up?”

The debate was pushed off until next week.