On Monday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he was suspending the judicial reform legislation to allow negotiations with the opposition parties to hopefully reach a common ground during the Knesset’s summer session. But on Tuesday morning, the opposition parties discovered that the coalition submitted the first phase of the bill, dealing with the composition of the committee to elect judges, to a plenum vote. The bill had been finalized in committee on Monday.
There was a practical, largely technical reason for this move: the Knesset protocol requires that a bill would be submitted at least 24 hours before the plenum can vote on it. So, now, anytime the coalition decides to submit the original bill – it can. And, naturally, there was a psychological component to the move, a message to the opposition parties, if you will, that should they pull away from the talks – the bill becomes a law in an instant.
This did not go over well with the opposition, which considered it yet another proof of the fact that the government is not planning to negotiate in good faith.
Even though Knesset Secretary Dan Marzouk stressed that this was merely a technical step, Israel Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Liberman tweeted an angry I-told-you-so: “As I have warned, Netanyahu lied again. Instead of going for a real conversation with the president and closing the rift in the nation of Israel, the coalition spits in the public’s face and this very minute has put the Basic Law: The Judiciary and the Courts on the Knesset table. This means that at any given moment it can be voted on and passed by the plenary. This is a gun pointed at our temple in every sense of the word.”
He’s obviously right, and we on the right should applaud the fact that Justice Minister Yariv Levin and MK Simcha Rothman are not buying into President Herzog’s kumbaya. The other side should indeed feel that a gun is pressed against their temple, and deal honestly. I for one am not unhappy my elected representatives can play tough. This is why I voted for them.
MK Naama Lazimi (Labor) tweeted the same talking points: “I just finished a speech in the plenum and the secretary of the Knesset announces that the judiciary laws have been submitted for a second and third reading. Stopping? More like holding a gun to our temple.”
Lazimi continued: “I’m already telling you: they will say it’s a standard procedure. But there’s no reason for the law to be ready for the plenum at any moment during a discussion and when the legislation has been stopped. This is intended to tell the negotiating teams that they are there conditionally, which can end immediately. If they had good faith, they would have postponed the submission until the end of the negotiations.”
Other opposition members quoted the same talking points, but in the end, it comes down to this: do they feel lucky enough to challenge the other side and pull away from the talks over this technical move? I don’t think so.
Politics is not a world for the squeamish or fainthearted, according to Baron Maurice Saatchi, founder of the Saatchi Shul, an independent Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Maida Vale, London. I’m just saying.