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Knesset Clears First Hurdle in Dissolving Itself

June 23, 2022

by: Kate Norman

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The Knesset Committee will review bills to dissolve the current government.

Thursday, 23 June 2022 | A package of bills to dissolve Israel’s Knesset (Parliament) and send the Jewish state to another round of elections successfully passed the first reading yesterday.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced on Monday that they would dissolve the current government and send Israelis to the ballot boxes for the fifth time in three and a half years.

Both the coalition and the opposition—headed by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party—presented bills before the governing body yesterday, two bills from the coalition and nine from the opposition.

The bills were packaged together and passed by a vote of 110–0.

In order to be written into law and successfully dissolve the current government, the bills are now being sent to the Knesset Committee—which will either keep them or pass them onto the Law Committee—for review and revision.

The bills must pass through four readings—one of which was cleared yesterday—and the Knesset Committee’s revisions for approval.

The Knesset Committee, however, is headed by Member of Knesset Nir Orbach. A member of Prime Minister Bennett’s Yamina Party, Orbach quit the ruling coalition last week, costing it the majority.

The ruling coalition must have a 61-seat majority over the 120-seat Knesset in order to have a functioning government. After a series of defections over the last few months, Orbach’s departure brought the coalition down to 59 seats, one of the reasons Bennett and Lapid decided to throw in the towel.

Orbach is coming back into play again as head over the Knesset Committee, as the Yamina turncoat is reportedly seeking to stall the dissolution bill’s passage. This reportedly is most likely intended to give the opposition more time for a last-ditch effort to avoid another election by forming an alternative government under the current coalition.

Such a move would only need 61 votes but nonetheless seems unlikely in the current political chess games in play in the halls of the Knesset.

If Orbach’s stalling efforts fail and the bill makes it through the political obstacle course, the government could be dissolved as early as Monday, sending the government to its fifth round of elections since 2019.

Several Israeli media polls taken this week have shown that if the elections were to take place today, the political stalemate would remain the same, with no party or bloc poised to win the majority.

If the Knesset is successfully dissolved, Alternate Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will step in as the interim prime minister, as stipulated in the agreement to form the current coalition.

Coalition whip Boaz Toporovsky lamented the first reading of the dissolution bills as “a sad day for democracy” but nonetheless for the good of Israel.

“We are doing it with a heavy heart but wholeheartedly, because the benefit of the state has always been and will be before any other benefit,” Toporovsky said in a statement, as quoted by the Times of Israel.

Whether the coalition’s efforts to rush the bill to dissolve the government are successful or whether the opposition can successfully delay it and attempt to form an alternate government remains to be seen. Israeli politicians are working around the clock, attempting to shift and cement alliances, and anything can happen between now and Monday.

Posted on June 23, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 23, 2022)

Photo Credit: KDeGagne/bridgesforpeace.com

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