Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90
Defense Minister Benny Gantz (L) and UTJ MK Uri Maklev during the vote on a bill to dissolve the Knesset, June 22, 2022.

Constitution Committee Member, MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism), told Reshet Bet radio Friday morning: “Unfortunately, there won’t be an alternative government. It did not work out with Gantz and New Hope. Now, even if all of Yamina comes over it won’t be enough.”

Speaking of Yamina, according to reports, outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told his associates on Thursday: “I will decide on my political future only after the dissolution of the Knesset.”

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Meanwhile, the prime minister is facing increasing tensions with his longtime ally, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, whom he sent on her way to a state visit in Morocco without bothering to reveal to her his decision to break the government and leave her jobless and possibly homeless (in political terms). Bennett sounded like a husband who was caught by his wife with another woman when he tried to explain to Shaked why he couldn’t wait with his announcement of dissolving the Knesset until she returned from North Africa. He told her it was all MK Nir Orbach’s fault.

“Orbach told me that he would vote in favor of the dissolution of the Knesset this week, so I couldn’t wait,” the guilty partner made up excuses – which did not match what everyone else in Yamina, including the betrayed Shaked, had heard directly from Orbach, who repeated his intent to vote on the dissolution only next week. In fact, Orbach went out of his way to reassure Shaked personally the move won’t happen this week.

The Prime Minister’s Office denied those allegations, but Ayelet knows better, and she is facing some serious decisions in the coming few weeks.

Back to MK Maklev, he is very unhappy with the decision of the outgoing coalition members to go ahead with the “defendant bill,” tailor-made to fit their arch-enemy, Benjamin Netanyahu. The bill says anyone facing criminal indictments that could net them three years or more in prison can’t become prime minister. The bill does not call for the resignation of a serving prime minister after being indicted – although that’s the law regarding indicted government ministers and heads of municipalities. There’s some logic to the bill since the prime minister has the ultimate authority over the justice ministry, whose prosecution has just indicted him. Still, in this case, the bill might as well say a resident of Caesarea is banned from running for PM because that’s what its framers are looking for.

“This bill goes against the existing democratic fundamentals,” MK Maklev said. “Anyone who has not been convicted is presumed innocent.”

Yes and no. What if, hypothetically, the candidate in question was indicted for spying for Iran? Would Maklev support letting him gain the ultimate authority over Israel’s security apparatus as long as he has not been convicted? I’m not so sure.

In any event, there’s certainly a lot to be questioned about the hurried manner in which the coalition partners are pursuing passing this bill, when, one could argue, such a huge altering of the country’s democratic principles should be done without haste, and with a great deal of consideration – not in less than one week that would include a preliminary vote, committee debates, and two final votes.

The response you hear from coalition members is that they wanted to pass the defendant bill this whole past year, but Yamina was against it and according to the coalition agreements such major legislation required the unanimous support of the coalition partners. Now there’s no longer a coalition, the agreements have been shoved where precious little sunlight is visible, let’s get Bibi.

However, MK Gilad Kariv (Labor), Chairman of the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee said that if the Knesset legal counsel says there’s something wrong with the way the bill is being pushed at this final chapter in the history of the coalition, he would obey and nix the bill until the next Knesset. Well, the Knesset Counsel has already said that she objects to the bill in its current form and even though it may not be unconstitutional, she thinks it’s certainly unethical.

Not to worry, on the outside chance that the bill would pass, count on Bibi to get it killed by the Supreme Court.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.