The Knesset approved the Governance Bill (Hok Hameshilut) in an initial vote on Wednesday evening. The vote followed a particularly heated debate.
The proposed law would change Israel’s system of government by limiting the number of ministers in a government to 19, including the Prime Minister, and limiting the number of deputy ministers to four. Ministers would be required to hold one, and only one, portfolio.
The law would also limit no-confidence votes to one a month, with exceptions made for no-confidence motions that have been signed by at least 61 MKs. Currently, no-confidence measures can be filed at any time, and the Knesset sometimes votes down several in one day.
If the Knesset were to support a no-confidence vote, the person put forth as the new Prime Minister as part of the no-confidence measure would have just 21 days – not 28, as under the current law – to form a new government. If they failed to do so, the government that was voted down would remain in power.
It would also give the government 100 days after the elections, in place of the current 45, to approve the national budget.
Perhaps the most controversial part of the law is a clause raising the threshold to enter Knesset to four percent of the national vote – up from two percent. The change would have kept some current Knesset factions out.
The smallest parties currently in Knesset are Kadima, Meretz and the three Arab or majority-Arab factions: Hadash, Ra’am Ta’al and Balad.
MKs from Meretz were among those to attack the proposal.
MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) charged, “The real battle here is between the Coalition and democracy, not between the Coalition and Opposition. What you are doing here is to seize control based on your own views – views based in hatred of Arabs and hareidi-religious Jews.”
MK Zahava Galon (Meretz) said, “What we’re discussing here isn’t a law to strengthen governance, it’s a law to strengthen racism, with two representatives from the ‘monarchy’ parties, who weren’t elected personally, propose kicking ideology-based factions out of Knesset.”
“It’s not constitutional. And let everyone remember: the first parties to disappear will be the ones that wanted to raise the vote threshold,” she added.
Opposition head MK Shelly Yechimovich, head of the Labor party, expressed similar views. “There’s nothing moral about this legislation. It remains ‘the law to get minorities out of the system,’” she accused.
MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) stood up for the law. “I think niche parties are a bad thing,” he declared. “Every person can find a place for themselves within the existing parties – and that would make the Knesset more serious.”