Photo Credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL
Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz

The Knesset plenum gave final approval on Monday night to the so-called “Norwegian Law,” which allows any MK who is appointed as minister or deputy minister to resign temporarily from the Knesset, thereby enabling the next member of their party slate to assume the position in their stead. Under the law, if such a minister or deputy minister later resigns or is fired from the post – or is appointed prime minister, deputy prime minister or acting prime minister, he or she would automatically return to the Knesset at the expense of the new MK.

The immediate application of the new law will be to beef up the Blue&White presence in the Knesset committees, seeing is the majority of the faction have been awarded ministerial portfolios by the Netanyahu-Gantz government, which cut down their presence in the various Knesset committees where the legislative sausage is made.

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However, the new law is a double edged sward for DM and alternate PM Benny Gantz, seeing as his Blue&White faction has splintered from the original Blue&White party, close to half of which is currently in the opposition, under MK Yair Lapid’s leadership. Some of the down-list candidates who ran in the 2020 election are affiliated with that anti-Gantz faction, meaning that the new law will beef up his opposition. Gantz had attempted to write the new Norwegian law (named after the Norwegian parliament where a version of it is practiced) with a “skipping” mechanism. Allowing him to pick and choose which down-slate candidates are let in. But that was rejected as unconstitutional.

The law, and amendment to Basic Law: The Knesset, passed its second and third readings with 66 votes in favor and 43 against, after all the reservations submitted by the opposition had been rejected. Being a Basic Law (constitutional – DI), the amendment required a majority of 61 votes to pass.

Under a temporary order enacted by the 20th Knesset, the Norwegian model applied to only one MK from each party’s roster. The current law allows for between one and five members of a party who are also ministers or deputy ministers to give up their Knesset seats in favor of other party members below them on their party’s list.

The number of government members allowed to temporarily resign and later return to the Knesset is derived from the size of the parliamentary faction in question and the number of MKs who belong to the faction but do not serve as ministers or deputy ministers.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.