Opposition’s Plan: Filibuster to Delay Vote Until PM’s Deadline Is Up

YERUSHALAYIM -
The plenum hall of the Knesset (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Unless a last-minute breakthrough is achieved, the Knesset is expected to vote on a bill to dissolve itself later Wednesday. That vote must take place before midnight – because afterwards, President Reuven Rivlin will be able to appoint another individual to attempt to form a government, a possibility that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is said to be anxious to avoid. So, the discussion on the law has been called for noon Wednesday, in order to give all 120 MKs the right to speak, as is their right.

The plan is to finish all the speeches and proceed to the vote. But the opposition, which is against the dispersal of the Knesset, and extending its mandate beyond midnight – which would give Rivlin the option to ask someone other than Netanyahu an opportunity to form a government, with that “someone” most likely Benny Gantz. To accomplish that, the opposition plans to filibuster the discussion, Meretz head MK Tamar Zandberg said Wednesday morning.

In a social media post, Zandberg said that each opposition MK would “speak for the maximum amount of time allowed them. If it takes three days to complete the discussion, then so be it. We are aiming for the maximum amount of time that it will take to allow the President to appoint an MK other than Netanyahu to form a government.” If the Likud tries to limit those speeches, “we will not hesitate to appeal to the High Court,” Zandberg said.

Meanwhile, Avigdor Liberman appeared no closer to moderating his stance on the draft law. In a social media post Wednesday, Liberman said that “even I, Avigdor Liberman, who has been in Israeli politics for many years, is shocked at the endless pressure, paranoia, and speculation I have been subject to in the past two days, almost every minute. I want to stress again that I am not seeking ‘vengeance’ on anyone, and I am not looking to depose the Prime Minister. I am also not anti-chareidi. I am pro-Israel, I am in favor of a Jewish state, but not a halachic one. I am not trying to ‘extort’ anything from anyone.” His refusal to back down, he wrote in a social media post, was out of conviction, and nothing else.

In an editorial Wednesday, the Hebrew-language edition of Hamodia said that Liberman’s attempt to portray himself as a defender of the “secular majority” against a halachic state were nonsense. “There is no religious coercion in Israel, and if there is any coercion in the realm of ideologies, it is secular coercion. Thus, observant Jews are prohibited from running programs that does not violate their religious lifestyle in the public space; thus, observant soldiers are forced to listen to females singing; thus, understandings that have been in place since the establishment of the state are ignored; thus, civil service positions are denied to observant Jews; thus, there are mayors who will do anything to prevent chareidim from moving into their towns.

“No one intends to get involved in the personal life of an Israeli. Chareidi parties asked for nothing except for the preservation of the status quo,” the editorial said. “We have only one expectation – that no one interfere with our lifestyle, which we conduct according to the Torah; that no one will force us to violate the Torah; and that we be left alone to conduct our lifestyle without interference.”