Knesset passes controversial Deri, Smotrich laws, legislative blitz continues

Passage of these laws were preconditions for the parties to finalize their coalition agreements with Netanyahu.

By Pesach Benson, TPS

The Knesset passed on Tuesday morning controversial legislation, clearing the way for two of Benjamin Netanyahu’s allies to finalize coalition agreements as a key deadline approaches.

The bills, referred to as the “Deri Law” and “Smotrich Laws,” are key demands by the Shas and Religious Zionism parties. Following an all-night Knesset debate, lawmakers passed the bills together by a vote of 63-55.

The “Deri Law” refers to Shas leader Aryeh Deri, who is expected to serve as minister of both Health and Interior, and then rotate into the finance ministry. He resigned from the Knesset in January as a part of a plea agreement in which he admitted to tax offenses. He was given a suspended prison sentence, but current laws bar him from a cabinet position for seven years.

The “Smotrich Law” enables Religious Zionism leader Betzalel Smotrich to serve as an independent minister within the Defense Ministry to oversee construction and other civil matters in Judea and Samaria. Until now, the defense minister had that oversight.

A third bill, known as the “Ben-Gvir Law,” would allow Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir to serve as minister of National Security. The expanded authority he demands over the Israeli police requires Knesset legislation. Lawmakers are expected to have a final vote on that issue on Tuesday afternoon.

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Passage of these laws were preconditions for Shas, RZP and Otzma Yehudit to finalize their coalition agreements with Netanyahu.

Netanyahu must have his government sworn in by Jan. 2. He hopes to do so by Thursday.