Knesset Passes First Reading of Dispersal Bill

On Tuesday morning, the first reading of a bill for dissolving Israel’s 24th Knesset was passed by lawmakers in the early hours. This puts Israel close to its fifth round of elections to happen in less than four years.

Monday debates

The entire Monday was spent by lawmakers of the opposition and the governing coalition in debate over issues like what legislation to approve before the parliament is dissolved and the date when the next elections would be held. As a matter of fact, there were also some people in the opposition who tried to gather enough votes for forming an alternate coalition without requiring elections under the leading of the opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The vote was conducted after the coalition and opposition had come to an understanding. They decided to conduct the final reading of dispersal of the parliament on Wednesday. Once the legislation is approved, the power will be handed over by current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. He will take the position of caretaker prime minister until the next elections and formation of a new government.

Delay in approval

Initially, the coalition had planned on pushing the legislation for dispersal through all readings on Monday. However, the House Committee had to approve the bill first and the process could not be started because Chairman Nir Orbach had not convened the panel. This delay was deliberate, as he wanted to give the opposition enough time to form an alternate coalition.

He first set a late morning slot and then convened the meeting nine hours later, so the bill could not be passed until late Monday night. It then had its first successful reading in the Knesset plenum. Orbach’s committee will have control of the bill, which means that he can control its progress as it moves through the parliamentary process.

The delay on Monday was also because the opposition and coalition could not come to an agreement on the final date of the elections, or which legislation to pass before the Knesset is dispersed. The two sides announced on late Monday that they had decided to hold elections on October 25th, or November 1st.

Bills not to be approved

The negotiations between the coalition and government also concluded that a bill that was aimed at barring a person criminally indicted, such as the opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, from becoming prime minister would not be taken forward. Likewise, the Metro Law, which was aimed at providing funding and oversight for a subway system in Tel Aviv would also not be taken up.

However, there will be a vote for a bill meant to provide compensation to those who have been affected due to the Omicron variant outbreak. Some additional bills were also agreed upon and the vote was scheduled for Tuesday noon. The opposition’s attempt to form a coalition during the time given by Orbach remained unsuccessful. They need the support of at least 61 out of 120 MKs in the Knesset, but Netanyahu has not been able to muster a majority.

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