Amsalem, Bitan rush to complete recommendations bill legislation
After passing their recommendations bill through first reading Monday, Likud MKs Amsalem and Bitan rush to set second, third readings next Monday, completing entire legislative process in a week; opposition MKs appeal to Knesset legal adviser, speaker to block process, but they decline; Kulanu source reveals Likud threatened to call new elections unless bill is passed.
The Likud's David Amsalem has been racing to pass his recommendations bill through the Knesset, clearing the first hurdle in the form of a first reading this past Monday and already eyeing the next one: passing it speedily through the second and third readings this coming Monday, thereby concluding the entire legislative process in one week.
Along with compatriot Coalition Chairman David Bitan, Amsalem is attempting to pass the law in its current promulgation, thereby applying it to existing investigations, such as those carried out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Should that be the case, police would be barred from notifying the public whether it believed Netanyahu should be indicted for the bribery and fraud offenses of which he has been suspected.
In order to speed the legislative process along, the Knesset's Internal Affairs Committee is expected to hold two extracurricular discussions on Thursday and Sunday, during which the committee does not usually convene.
"Even if there's a last minute delay, the bill will go to a vote on Wednesday at the very latest," said a source in the Internal Affairs Committee.
MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) and other MKs appealed upon learning of the committee's irregular decision to the parliament's legal adviser Eyal Yinon and Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein asking them to prevent the speedy legislation which they claimed was illegal.
"It would have been appropriate to allow MKs to hold a respectable discussion and consider the matter seriously before voting on the second and third readings," the MKs' appeal stated.
However, mere hours later Yinon replied in writing and said their request had no legal or regulatory standing, and claimed he could do nothing to prevent the accelerated process. Edelstein concurred, basing his decision on Yinon's opinion, and said the vote would take place Monday.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon was in the eye of the storm Monday after the first reading vote, as he voted in favor of the bill despite vowing to not support a personal bill whose sole purpose is assisting Netanyahu alone.
New details came to light Tuesday revealing the pressures exerted on Kahlon by senior Likud party officials, which eventually led to his decision to go back on his public word.
The decision culminated in a meeting of Kahlon's Kulanu party in which the finance minister cut off the other speakers and asked, "Do you want elections? If we vote against this bill it means we're going to new elections within 90 days."
A Kulanu source further admitted Tuesday Likud members sent him unequivocal messages throughout the day. "They explained that as far as they were concerned, this bill was the current Knesset's 'Israel Hayom bill,'" the source said, referencing the proposed law Netanyahu said led to the previous government's downfall once it was struck down.
"What it meant was that should the Kulanu party vote against the Likud's position, it would constitute just cause to disband the government and call new elections," the source concluded.
One of the chief allegations levied against the recommendations bill, thanks to which it earned the moniker "the second Bibi Law," is that it was a personal bill tailored to the prime minister's needs. Supporting that claim, the bill stipulated it would apply to investigations commenced before it was enacted, and that the prohibition on making indictment recommendations public would only apply to public personas and not to laymen and women.