Likud MK elected Knesset speaker, clearing path for new Netanyahu government

Netanyahu ally elected Knesset speaker as the right-wing bloc prepares to rush slew of laws before establishing new government. Lapid had threatened a filibuster.

By World Israel News Staff

The Likud Party’s Yair Levin was elected speaker of Israel’s Knesset Tuesday morning and is expected to act quickly on legislation to enable incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make good on his coalition agreements, thereby paving the way for the new government to take office.

Levin, who helped Netanyahu negotiate with the Likud’s coalition partners, won 64 of the 120 Knesset votes possible to replace Mickey Levy of the Yesh Atid party.

The speaker controls the legislative agenda, and time is of the essence for the Netanyahu coalition. Four parties in the incoming government are demanding legal changes in order to participate in the coalition and give the government a majority of 64.

Otzma Yehudit party chief MK Itamar Ben Gvir, who is set to become national security minister, said he must have broader control over the police, a demand that requires legal changes.

Three other pieces of legislation would amend Israel’s Basic Laws, which the country uses in lieu of a constitution.

One adjustment would give Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich a ministerial role in the defense ministry, allowing him to control the Civil Administration that governs Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.

Read  Opposition and Coalition leaders reject reported judicial reform compromise

Another amendment would allow Shas chairman Aryeh Deri to become a minister, despite having received a suspended sentence for tax offenses.

The remaining change would rescind a law that allows four Knesset members from a single party to break away and form a new Knesset faction. There are concerns in the Likud that members who do not receive senior posts may bolt the party, with the planned amendment aimed at deterring defectors.

Following Levin’s election, Netanyahu asked the incoming opposition to “accept the people’s decision. Stop spreading lies and intimidation.”

The vote was originally set to be held on Monday, but Lapid’s government had threatened a filibuster. A compromise was worked out to hold the election on Tuesday.

Levin, an attorney, is expected only to serve temporarily as Knesset Speaker, and is a top candidate for the Justice Ministry portfolio.