Yisrael Beitenu Chair Avigdor Lieberman has agreed to amend a controversial clause within the governance bill – pertaining to the effective abolition of no-confidence motions – yet demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu push the bill forward before the end of the current session.
In a letter addressed to Netanyahu Sunday morning, Lieberman branded the widespread criticism of the bill, originally brought before the legislative assembly by Yisrael Beitenu Knesset Member David Rotem, as "populist," yet gave his consent to the changes.
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In his letter, Lieberman offered a detailed summary of the bill, including clauses aimed at significantly complicating the passing of no-confidence motions in the Knesset plenum, limiting the number of cabinet ministers to 19 and raising the electoral threshold to 4% of the general vote.
As things stand, every Knesset faction can submit a proposal toward a vote of no-confidence, a right various opposition parties choose to exercise on an almost weekly basis. Yisrael Beitenu's bill, ratified on first reading, sought to make the opposition gather a majority prior to the vote, thereby rendering Mondays' no confidence motions – which have become a platform for the opposition to criticize the government – a thing of the past.
Last week, Yesh Atid MK Ronen Hoffman submitted his party's response to the governance bill, saying no majority is needed to merely put forth a no confidence motion. Hoffman's proposal does, however, raise the bar for the actual overthrow of government, setting it at a majority of 65.
Branding Hoffman's proposal as populist, Lieberman wrote "I want to emphasize that I believe that the motion of confidence is a key tool of the opposition in its struggle against the government and that it is essential to maintaining democracy. Therefore I seek to safeguard its power and status."
"Excessive use of no confidence motions on a weekly basis and depreciation has eroded the status of this tool until it became virtually worthless," the former foreign minister wrote.
"For an illustration of the cheapening of the tool, see the 270 no-confidence motions brought up in the 18th Knesset – none of which brought about the fall of the government. None of them gained any significant public response because they stood no chance to begin with."
Lieberman detailed a coalitional agreement – between his party and Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid – according to which a vote of no confidence would be possible only should the opposition gather a majority of 65 Knesset members who pledge confidence in a new leader.
Instead, Lieberman proposed that each faction be able to submit a no confidence motion once a month – as opposed to once a week. All the motions will be submitted on the same day in the presence of the prime minister.
According to Lieberman, the legislation will ensure the votes on the measure would garner greater publicity than they do today. "Additionally, this compromise will abolish the inflation of the no confidence proposals, and the erosion in their status, and will allow the government to work with greater efficiency and bring the Israeli parliament up to par with the civilized world.
Lierberman proposed the law go into effect starting with the next Knesset.
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