During the past week the Knesset passed into law three of the government`s flagship bills: The Governance Bill, the Security Service Bill and the Referendum Bill.
The approval by the Plenum of the two governance laws raises the minimum threshold for a party to enter the Knesset from 2% of the total votes cast in national elections to 3.25% and limits the number of ministers to 18 (not including the prime minister). The amended Security Service Law drafts previously exempt yeshiva students into the IDF or National Service program, and the Referendum Law requires a national referendum on concessions of any sovereign land. The law does not apply to withdrawals from the West Bank, which was not annexed.
The opposition boycotted the votes on all three bills. Members of the opposition claim the referendum and governance laws are anti-democratic, and they also protested the tight voting schedule.
On Wednesday British Prime Minister David Cameron addressed the Knesset. ”I understand the concern of Israelis who have seen land that Israel has pulled out of, becoming a base for terrorist attacks. And I will always stand up for the right of Israel to defend its citizens,” he said in the speech.
During the special plenary session in Cameron`s honor, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel is the root cause of the conflict. ”This refusal predated the establishment of these settlements by 50 years, and it continues even after the uprooting of all the settlements in the Gaza Strip,” he said.
Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein urged PM Cameron to block governmental support to organizations that call for a boycott on Israel. Addressing the negotiations with the Palestinians, Speaker Edelstein said Israel has ”proven its willingness to make painful concessions, but it will not agree to bear the price of peace on its own.”
On Wednesday the photo exhibit ”Prime Minister in Slippers” opened in the Knesset. The exhibit is a joint initiative of Speaker Edelstein and the Government Press Office, which is marking its 80th anniversary. The exhibit offers a peek into the less formal moments in the lives of Israel`s leaders, from David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir to Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu.
During the opening of the exhibit, PM Netanyahu addressed the massive rocket fire on south Israel. ”We will not be deterred and will continue to harm anyone who wants to harm us.”
Addressing the photo exhibit, Netanyahu said that while photography technology has advanced, ”what hasn`t changed is the fact that we are all human beings, and each one of us needs those moments of calm.”