Israeli Lawmakers Pass Last-minute Bills Enabling New Gov’t by Next Week
Members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, have passed the last in a package of legislation that will enable a unity government to be sworn in next week. The bills, mostly amendments to existing laws, were necessary owing to the unique nature of the coalition agreement, which, among other things, calls for the rotation of prime ministers: Binyamin Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud, and Benny Gantz, who heads the centrist Blue and White party. The flurry of legislation came after the country’s top court ruled late on Wednesday against petitioners who had felt the terms of the coalition agreement required too many tweaks to existing laws, and against other petitioners who said that Netanyahu, under indictment for alleged corruption, should not be allowed to lead it. One legislative tweak gives both Netanyahu and Gantz the right to retain the designation “prime minister” even when not sitting at the head of the table. This is deeply crucial to the Likud leader. Existing laws on coalition-forming said he would have had to become a mere cabinet minister after rotating out of the prime minister’s chair. The new designation will allow him to get around another law – one that parliamentarians preferred not to address – requiring the resignation of rank-and-file cabinet ministers under indictment, something Netanyahu clearly prefers to avoid.