Bayit Yehudi’s stubbornness is making it impossible to pass a law to reverse Supreme Court rulings, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lamented in a Likud faction meeting Monday.
“I want the override clause to pass, but Bayit Yehudi is pushing it into the trash,” he said, according to a source in the meeting. “The only way to pass the override clause is through agreements in the coalition.”
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon accused Bayit Yehudi of poisoning the atmosphere: “Enough with the spin. Kulanu is in favor of removing the illegal infiltrators from south Tel Aviv. If we need to reach an override clause on the subject, this faction will stand united behind it.”
The override clause is a proposal by MK Bezalel Smotrich of Bayit Yehudi which states that the Knesset can resurrect laws that were overturned by the Supreme Court by obtaining the votes of 61 MKs, often called a super-majority. Most laws can be passed with a mere simple majority of MKs who are present in the Knesset for the vote.
The current push to reverse Supreme Court decisions came in response to a court ruling earlier this year that stopped the government’s plan to deport African migrants to third countries, in part because the agreements with those countries were not being upheld. In the ensuing months, all of those agreements fell apart.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the bill Sunday, after Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, also of Bayit Yehudi, pushed for the vote to take place, despite the prime minister’s call to wait until he can get Kahlon onboard.
Although the ministerial vote was rushed, the bill won’t go to a Knesset vote this week, because the coalition does not have enough votes to pass it. Netanyahu will be in Moscow on Wednesday, and Kahlon has not budged from his instruction to his party’s lawmakers to vote against the bill. In addition, Likud MK Benny Begin plans to vote against it. This leaves the coalition with fewer votes than the opposition.
In a clear reference to Bennett, Kahlon said that “some ministers don’t have solutions; they’re spreading fantasies.
“Even if the override clause... would pass, it wouldn’t give a real response to the migrant problem,” he said. “We designated tens of millions of shekels last year towards solutions to get rid of the migrants. We made every effort,” but it didn’t work.
Instead of the override clause, a broader law is needed that would regulate relations between the judiciary, legislative and executive branches of government, Kahlon said.
Bennett warned at Bayit Yehudi’s faction meeting that “the State of Israel and residents of south Tel Aviv have been facing a problem of about 50,000 illegal infiltrators that are settling down in Israel more and more as time goes by. Refugees can stay; illegal migrants must go.”
He said the Supreme Court overturned the government’s solutions for the migrant issue, and said what must be done is to pass the override bill, reactivate the “Law to Prevent Infiltration” and reopen the Holot holding facility in the Negev.
“This is a practical solution to remove 20,000 infiltrators in a year,” Bennett said. “If you have another practical solution to get the infiltrators out of the country, present it. If you have a real and practical solution to bridle the increasing involvement of the judiciary in the daily administration of the country, present it. Without another solution, we expect you to support the override clause.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was unimpressed by his coalition partners’ bickering.
“This looks grotesque to me,” he said at Yisrael Beytenu’s faction meeting. “It’s not a crisis; it’s a battle for political points.
Everyone supports [the override clause], and they’re fighting over who supports it more, who is holier than the pope. It looks fake to me and a little funny. But I guess that’s part of our parliamentary existence.”