Opposition factions announce boycott on Knesset committee meetings

July 15, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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The opposition factions in the Knesset have announced they will not participate in any of the Committees’ discussions, accusing the coalition of tyranny and forceful conduct.

Members of the Knesset vote during an Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Jun 28, 2021. Photo by Shalev Shalom/TPS

In a meeting of the House Committee on Wednesday, Member of Knesset (MK) Meir Porush, of the opposition’s United Torah Judaism, presented a statement on behalf of the opposition, stating that “it has become clear to us that the Government has no respect for the Knesset. The opposition will not participate in the committee discussions.”

He said that the composition of the committees “is completely distorted. The composition of the committees does not reflect the balance of power. There is no balance between the coalition and opposition in the important committees.”

For instance, while in the Knesset there is a ratio of 61 coalition members to 59 opposition members, the House Committee has nine members from the coalition versus six from the opposition.

He further pointed out that for the sixth time in the past week, the coalition activated of Section 98 of the Knesset Rules of Procedure that limits the time committee members can speak.

“In doing so, you’re trampling any opinion that differs from your own. I am announcing that starting today, we will not participate in these discussions. We have no interest in it. Don’t invite us to the discussions, and you won’t be forced to mobilize members,” he stated.

He further asked for the Knesset’s Legal Department to comment on this in writing.

“The Knesset has become meaningless. It stands out, particularly when the ministers don’t come to the Knesset. You are making wholesale use of Section 98, even for laws that are of no urgency. The coalition is trampling the opposition. As far as we’re concerned, you can hold the meetings in your own house, we won’t object,” he declared.

“In our view, it’s a failure of the Knesset Legal Department for not raising a red flag and preventing this situation. If the Legal Department does not prevent the situation, it too will bear responsibility,” he concluded.

A representative of the Knesset’s legal department said that they were not consulted on these moves and that if they would have been consulted, they would have advised otherwise.

MK Shlomo Karhi, of the Likud, which is in the opposition, told the coalition members: “You have to let the opposition express itself. You can’t prevent us from talking about bills that fundamentally change the way the Knesset works.”

Upon concluding their statements, MKs Porush and Karhi left the meeting.

MK Evgeny Sova, of the coalition’s Yisrael Beitenu, accused the opposition of “trolling. Whoever thinks that the coalition can be trolled, will encounter a combative coalition.”

The committee’s legal advisor, Adv. Arbel Astrachan, said that activation of Section 98 of the Knesset Rules of Procedure was intended for extreme cases, and not to deny the opposition members their right to stretch to the limit the parliamentary tools that the Rules of Procedure place at their disposal.

The committee voted unanimously to turn over a list of bills for discussion by the Knesset committees. MKs from the opposition did not participate in the votes.

The opposition is considering an appeal to the High Court of Justice over the coalition’s apparent unlawful and undemocratic conduct.

With an extremely acrimonious atmosphere in the Knesset and with an unstable coalition led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, every mundane or minor issue becomes a vicious battleground.

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