Likud Opposes Bill of their Own Lawmaker to Increase Tax on Plastic Bags

On Wednesday, the Likud party decided to vote against a bill that was introduced by its own lawmakers, after their allied ultra-orthodox factions also pushed back against the legislation. The aim of the bill was to start charging consumers in Israel for a plastic bags at all stores throughout the nation. The bill was introduced by MG Gila Gamliel and she brought it for a vote against the orders of Benjamin Netanyahu. According to reports, the party chairman was extremely angry at her when she refused to listen to him. All lawmakers in the coalition rallied to offer support for her bill, but Ra’am MK Mansour Abbas ended up accidentally voting against it.

Hence, the bill was not able to secure the majority it needed, as the voting ended on a 22-22 tie. Hailing from the New Hope party, Zvi Hauser, the Deputy Knesset Speaker led the Knesset session. Initially, he had accepted the request put forth by Abbas to change his vote in order to show his favor, but there was a protest from Likud and because of the advice of the legal adviser of the Knesset, he decided to not change it. Coalition lawmakers had also brought two similar bills and they advanced in the Knesset after their first reading.

Now, the two bills will be moved onto their relevant committees in order to prepare for their final votes. In 2016, a law was passed in Israel after which customers had to pay 10 agorot for every plastic bag they purchase at supermarkets. The law also prohibited some types of polymer bags. MK YoraiLahav-Hertzanofrom the YeshAtid party, who is part of the coalition, also submitted a bill that was related to another one submitted by MK Michal Rozen. As per this bill, all businesses would have to charge their customers for plastic bags and not just supermarket chains.

Initially, Netanyahu had permitted members of his Likud party to vote according to their conscience where the bills were concerned. However, he backtracked due to ultra-orthodox lawmakers threatening to do the same regarding legislation important to the Likud party. On Wednesday, MK Yaakov Eichlersaid that if Likud would grant a free vote, then members of the United Torah Judaism party would also consider it permission for voting according to their own preferences on every law and not follow instructions of the Likud party. He said that the law on plastic bags would be hurt families that have lots of kids and the poor.

Media reports indicated that the same sentiments were passed on to Netanyahu by AryehDeri, the Shas chairman. Both the UTJ and Shas are part of the opposition bloc led by Likud and also include the Religious Zionism party. The party chairman was infuriated to discover that Gamliel had advanced a bill similar to the coalition after he had decided to vote against the two bills. He was fuming at the former environmental protection minister and said that this would unravel the opposition and they don’t need the law.

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