Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO
33rd government
Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO
MK Ronen Hoffman

Governance bill sparks fiery Knesset debate

Bill to raise election threshold, increase majority necessary for no confidence motion, passes in preliminary reading despite opposition uproar; MK Gal-On: Shameful attempt to banish Arab MKs

After a fiery debate, the Knesset plenum passed the governance bill in a preliminary reading with 60 voting for the bill, and 44 against. Following the vote, most of the opposition MKs left the plenum in protest.


The new bill contains a number of contested points meant to increase the power of the executive branch, including the raising of the election threshold to 4% and raising the majority necessary to pass a motion of no confidence to 65 MKs instead of the current 61.


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Should a no confidence motion pass but no alternative government formed, the bill states, the incumbent government will remain in office.


ספסלי האופוזיציה (ארכיון) (צילום: גיל יוחנן)

Opposition benches (Archives) (Photo: Gil Yohanan) 


The bill also allows the government to remain in power even if the Knesset rejects its budget plan; limits the number of government ministers to 18 and sets a maximum of four deputy ministers.


The bill's initiator, MK Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid), presented it before the Knesset plenum but was repeatedly interrupted by members of the opposition, who arrived in full force to voice their objection to the bill.


The opposing MKs, led by Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On, were especially vexed by the new election threshold which they deemed "undemocratic."


"Your aim is to banish the Arab MKs from the Knesset," Gal-On shouted at Hoffman from her seat. "This bill is shameful."


MK Hoffman carried on and insisted the bill will "ensure the country could be run."


"(The bill) is balanced and reasonable, it was formed with the aid of the best experts, organizations and think-tanks," he said, adding: "It will ensure Israeli democracy will be preserved and even strengthened."


But the rival MKs were unconvinced.


"Since when do you care for democracy and opposition in the Knesset?" said Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg. "Stop making up stories. Your proposal is bad and harmful. How will removing the small parties from the Knesset aid democracy?"


Yesh Atid MK Minister Meir Cohen attempted to defend the bill, but was drowned by criticism from the opposition benches.


"This is a dangerous proposal," said Labor MK Isaac Herzog, who received the floor from the Knesset Speaker.


"I'm telling you, MK Hoffman, the world is round and democracy has many surprises. One day you'll sit in the opposition and it'll be quicker than you think."


MK Herzog accused the bill's initiators of promoting a "bureaucrats regime," and assured the Knesset that "we'll fight it with all the means in our disposal. Democracy is precious to all of us."


Following the vote, a special plenum marking Zeev Jabotinsky's death began, and opposition members left the chamber in protest.


"I wonder what Jabotinsky would have said about the bill you just passed," one of the departing MKs snarled.



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פרסום ראשון: 07.03.13, 15:19
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