The Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, chaired by MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionism) will meet Sunday morning to prepare the first bill of the judicial reform, changing the composition of the Committee to Elect Judges for a second and third reading in the plenum, presumably before the end of the winter session – this despite Likud Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s dramatic statement Saturday night calling for a halt to the reform.
In addition, the Deri 2 bill approving the appointment of Shas chairman Aryeh Deri as Interior and Health minister, essentially overriding the High Court’s decision to the contrary, will also be approved by the committee for a plenum vote, and the Gifts bill, permitting elected officials to receive donations to finance their medical and legal expenses, will be prepared for its first plenum vote.
According to News12 reporter Amit Segal, of the four Likud MKs who declared their objection to the judicial reform, two––MK David Biton and Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter––have changed their mind. Gallant is expected to vote against, and Yuli Edelstein will likely be absent from the House, with or without offsetting his vote with an opposition MK. MK Avi Maoz, who acts as a free agent after he resigned from his ministerial post, is expected to vote for the reform, but who knows?
Segal also reported that Netanyahu and Justice Minister Yariv Levin have presented Gallant with an ultimatum: vote in favor of the reform or lose your post as defense minister. The job would likely go to Dichter, the former head of the Shin Bet.
At a minimum, the reform bill and the two others have a reasonable chance of passing with a 61-vote majority. In the end, it will all be up to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is back from a short visit to London.
The Chametz bill, allowing hospital directors to decide if they want to ban chametz from their facility on Passover, is also expected to be submitted before the end of the winter session. So far, the CEOs of most of Israel’s medical centers have stated that they would not be checking visitors’ bags for contraband chametz. The only one that would be checking is Mayanei Hayeshua, a Haredi hospital located in Bnei Brak.