Opposition to Likud: ‘Offset Agreements’ Now Off the Table

YERUSHALAYIM -
MK Yoel Chasson (Zionist Camp). (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

When a Knesset member is unable to attend a crucial vote due to illness or other circumstances, their party is liable to lose out on an important vote. As this is a problem for all parties, especially the large ones, the parties have developed over the years the Offset Agreement, a method that enables the coalition and opposition to maintain the balance of votes without taking advantage of the misfortune of a particular Knesset member.

But on Wednesday, Zionist Camp accused the Likud of violating the Offset Agreement. In response to the appearance of Likud MK and Minister Chaim Katz at the Knesset vote on the death penalty for terrorists, opposition whip Yoel Chasson said that all existing Offset Agreements between MKs were now void, and Zionist Camp would feel free to violate them if it wanted to.

According to Chasson, Katz agreed to an Offset Agreement with a Zionist Camp MK who could not be present at the discussion and vote on the law Wednesday afternoon, due to medical issues. Under the agreement, Katz agreed not to show up for the vote in order not to give the coalition an unfair advantage over the opposition, with the lost Zionist Camp vote “canceled out” by Katz’s absence. However, Katz did show up — and voted for the law, which passed on its first reading.

“This is a serious violation of the ethics of behavior between Knesset members,” said Chasson. “Katz’s behavior gives us no choice but to inform the Knesset, with the consent of the chairperson of the opposition, that from now on all Offset Agreements will be conditional, and we will feel free to violate them based on our own requirements.”

Wednesday’s incident was far from the first time either party violated Offset Agreements or refused to honor them. Three weeks ago, Zionist Camp refused to honor an agreement with the Likud due to the hospitalization of MK David Azulay; the situation was saved when Meretz MK Ilan Gilaon volunteered to be absent from a Knesset vote to make up for Azulay’s absence. And just this week, Zionist Camp announced that there would be no offsets to compensate for the absence of MK Yehuda Glick, who is sitting shivah for his wife. As a result of that refusal, the coalition was forced to postpone a vote on the second and third reading of the Supermarkets Bill until next week.