Knesset Dispersal on Hold as Coalition Parties Threaten Filibusters


MK Nir Orbach leads a Knesset committee meeting, and a vote on the dissolvement of the Knesset, Wednesday. (FLASH90)

Yisrael Beytenu and Labor threatened on Wednesday to filibuster the Knesset Dispersal Bill over the opposition’s refusal to pass the Metro Law and its insistence on raising party funds. This casts doubt on the Knesset’s ability to meet its original goal to disperse by midnight Wednesday.

The Metro Law sets a framework for expanding Tel Aviv’s light-railway network into a full subway system. If the bill does not pass into law before the Knesset disperses, it will be delayed by at least four months, until the next Knesset forms.

The opposition wants to block the bill since it is a major victory for the coalition.

In addition, Yisrael Beytenu opposed the funding bill from the start, calling it a “robbery of public funds in broad daylight.”

Parties receive funds based on “funding units.” After the election, each party receives a certain number of units based on the number of seats it wins.

A unit is currently worth approximately NIS 1.4 million. A public committee authorized by law to decide the unit’s size authorized a 12% increase on Wednesday afternoon, meaning each unit will now equal approximately NIS 1.6 million. This will cost the Israeli taxpayer over NIS 21 million.

Yisrael Beytenu voted against the bill’s first reading in the plenum on Wednesday morning.

“We intend to file hundreds of objections to the Knesset Dispersal Bill and the absurdity called ‘party funding raise’ before their final vote and do everything we can in order to pass the Metro Law, which comes to take on the traffic problems in the most significant way possible, while at the same time providing a solution to Israel’s housing and employment challenges,” Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman wrote on Wednesday.

The Knesset parties are allowed to take loans from the Knesset. But due to repetitive elections, many of them have not finished repaying them.

Yisrael Beytenu and Labor’s filibuster threat means that the Knesset’s dispersal may stretch past midnight on Wednesday.

Israeli Law stipulates that Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid would become prime minister at midnight at the end of the day of the Knesset’s dispersal. The coalition thus wanted the Knesset to disperse by midnight so that he could be sworn in on Thursday, Channel 12 reported.

The Yehudah and Shomron emergency regulations, which apply Israeli law to citizens living in Yehudah and Shomron, expire on Thursday at midnight. The Knesset’s dispersal automatically extends the regulations for six months. If the Knesset does not disperse by then, the legal status of the residents there will be unclear.

MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) then filed some 10,000 objections. His goal is to stretch the debates until past midnight on Thursday and have the Yehudah and Shomron emergency regulations expire. The Joint List views the regulations as proof of what they claim are different legal systems for Jews and Arabs in Yehudah and Shomron.

During the preparation of the bill for its first reading, the House Committee decided to specify two alternative dates for Election Day for the 25th Knesset: either Oct. 25, or Nov 1. The date will be decided upon during the bill’s preparation for its second and third readings.

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