Knesset Speaker puts parliament on hold, outraging Blue and White

The Knesset speaker halted plenum proceedings within a few minutes on Wednesday.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein froze Knesset proceedings after only three minutes on Wednesday due to fighting between the parties over the makeup of Knesset committees.

The move outraged the Blue and White party. Its chairman Benny Gantz wrote to the various opposition parties in response:

“Unfortunately, the Knesset Speaker at the behest of the prime minister doesn’t permit us to fulfill our functions.

“We have no choice but to appeal to the Supreme Court,” Gantz said.

Edelstein blamed Blue and White for the situation, saying it had rejected his proposal that the two sides of the political aisle split the Knesset committees evenly between them.

Blue and White says that Edelstein is trying to block three pieces of legislation, which the party introduced moments after the 23rd Knesset was sworn in on Monday, from moving forward.

The bills call for a two-term limit for prime ministers, the termination of the term of a prime minister who faces indictment and the prohibition of giving the task of building a government coalition to a Knesset member who faces indictment.

Reports say that one of the moves planned by Blue and White to make sure the bills are put at the forefront of the 23rd Knesset’s agenda is to replace Edelstein, who is a member of the Likud party.

Edelstein said on Monday evening that he won’t cooperate in the opposition’s efforts to remove him.

The bills submitted by Blue and White infuriated the Likud party. In a statement, the party said of Blue and White:

“Outwardly they are presenting a facade as if they are willing to form a unity government, and in practice they are promoting personal, anti-democratic and retroactive laws with the sole purpose of thwarting the will of over 2.5 million citizens.”

“Such things aren’t even done in Iran or Turkey. That is not how you behave if you really want to achieve unity,” the Likud statement read.

Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev told Israel’s Channel 12 that the proposed legislation was “a despicable, personal and anti-democratic law against the prime minister. There is a feeling that the left has the right to do anything.”

By personal law, Regev meant it was designed to target Netanyahu.

Likud Knesset Member Shlomo Karai told Israel’s Channel 20: “They speak about unity but on the other side, they want to put forward a bill that would force Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who won the trust of the Zionist majority of the State of Israel – from the prime minister’s chair with an anti-democratic law, a personal law, a contemptible law.

“If we were even to suggest something similar to that we would be attacked from every direction,” he said. “We won’t permit this.”

Attempting to explain the urgency with which Blue and White introduced the bills, he said, “Against Prime Minister Netanyahu they can’t win. It’s turned into hatred. It already isn’t dependent on a reason… Now, all that’s important for them is to bring him down.”

“Behind that is hidden the hope that after the era of Netanyahu, they’ll be able to topple right-wing rule,” Karai said.