Coalition chairman MK Yariv Levin has urged members of Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition to sign a document that would commit them to fully support three controversial laws the Knesset will be discussing this week. Observers called the demand “unprecedented,” and members of the opposition bitterly complained over the commitment document, claiming that many Coalition MKs would vote against some, if not all, of the bills if they were free to do so.
The laws include the Governance Bill, which would significantly raise the voting threshold, risking several small parties’ ability to enter Knesset; the enlistment bill, which will see hareidi yeshiva students become eligible for the draft for the first time in Israel’s history; and the National Referendum bill, which would require the government to hold a national referendum before conceding Israeli territory to a foreign entity. That bill could have an impact on Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
The document, being circulated by Levin, asks MKs to not only support the bill, but to withdraw any reservations they have on the measures. If the MKs do so, the bills will pass without recording the reservations that are normally attached to controversial bills.
The bills will be voted on in a back-to-back marathon in order to keep the pressure on Coalition MKs to vote according to Coalition commitments, and is expected to trigger a stormy week in the Knesset. The marathon session will begin Monday at 11 a.m. and will end only at 2 a.m. Thursday.
Speaking Sunday, MK Dov Hanin of the far-left Hadash party said that “not only is a document demanding full support in this manner unprecedented, but the situation the coalition has created is unprecedented. A group of bullies has taken over the State of Israel, and is imposing its will not only on the minority, but on the majority of MKs as well.”
According to Hanin, all of the bills would fail by a large majority, with as many as 100 MKs voting against if they were allowed to vote their conscious. “This document was the idea of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who uses ultimatums and 'commitment documents' like the one being circulated now to get his way,” Hanin asserted.
The Opposition – made up of the hareidi factions, Arab parties and the left-wing Labor and Meretz parties - is largely against all three bills. Debates over the Governance Bill in particular led to rare agreement between the Opposition factions.