January 27, 2023

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Knesset Resumes Legislative Push as Clock Ticking for Netanyahu

3 min read

On Monday, changes are scheduled to be finalized to the Basic Law in Israel, which undergirds the functioning and formation of the next government.

The nascent coalition of incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing the legislation ahead, which has been demanded by his partners before the new government is sworn in.

The Basic Laws

The Basic Laws have a fragile and elevated status and are the closest form of a constitution in Israel that can be changed by a majority of parliamentarians.

A mechanism has been demanded by Bezalel Smotrich, the leader of the far-right Religious Zionism party, which would enable him to serve as an independent minister as part of the Defense Ministry to take charge of the West Bank.

Meanwhile Aryeh Deri, the chief of the Shas party, wants to make adjustments to cabinet fitness requirements.

Doing so would enable him to be appointed for running two ministries, even though a tax fraud sentence against him was recently suspended.

The two changes have been combined into one bill and the changes are prepared for their second and third reading in the Knesset.

61 votes are required for passing the law because a Basic Law has to be modified for the changes to be put into effect.

The new coalition that Netanyahu has formed controls 64 of the total 120 seats in the Knesset.

The legislative session

The legislative session will begin on Monday with a formal announcement that a majority government has been formed by Netanyahu.

This move will kick start a 7-day countdown for the new government to be sworn in. The leader of the Likud party had bought some additional time last week for finishing the legislation demands of his partners.

The legislative sessions were shuttered due to the Hanukkah holiday, which delayed the beginning of the deadline until Monday.

This was despite him informing Isaac Herzog, the President of Israel, about securing the partnerships necessary for forming the government back on Wednesday.

Other details

Originally, the bill from Ben Gvir, the leader of the Otzma Yehudit party, had been aimed at making policy and police leadership subordinate to politicians, which would have blurred operational authorities.

However, there had been a great deal of criticism against the bill from the police commissioner, the attorney general’s office, opposition lawmakers and former senior police officials.

Therefore, Ben Gvir had had to pull back from his demand of introducing law policies that would put the police under his control on Thursday.

Gvir announced that he was splitting his bill temporarily because there would be a challenge from the High Court of Justice.

However, other parts of the bill will move forward, which include setting other policies like those related to police investigations.

There is also a clause in the bill that puts the police under the authority of the government, but the commissioner would not be under Ben Gvir’s thumb, despite his efforts.

While promoting his bill in the last few weeks, Gvir has claimed that it would be ‘democratic’ to bring the police under the government’s control.

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