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Knesset increases minimum numbers of lawmakers needed to form new faction

The new law eliminates the current option for four MKs to break away from their parliamentary group, marking progress for Benjamin Netanyahu in his quest to form a government.

The Knesset plenum in Jerusalem. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
The Knesset plenum in Jerusalem. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Following an intense session, the Knesset Plenum on Monday approved a bill increasing the minimum number of MKs needed in order to split into a new faction in the parliament, marking a political achievement to for Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu in his quest to form a government.

Within his Likud party, Netanyahu might soon face standoffs with some disgruntled MKs who will are not appointed to the government positions they desire. The new law eliminates the current option for four MKs to break away from their parliamentary group in that kind of scenario.

“The incoming government has a new catchphrase: ‘Bite Us,’” accused outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid during the plenum session before the vote. “The message is that it only cares about itself. Haredim only care about Haredim, Religious Zionism only cares about settlers and Likud members only care about Netanyahu and his trial. Anyone else, who didn’t vote for them, can ‘go bite them’—they will not work or be responsible for him. They have no interest in common life, in abiding the law, in balancing between Judaism and democracy and between security and civil rights.”

Netanyahu sarcastically replied to Lapid via Twitter.

“Yair Lapid is unable to make a shot at the goal even after the game has ended,” he wrote, referring to the World Cup, which ended the day before. “He still does not accept the election results—he lost and the right-wing won. Very soon we will form a strong right-wing government that will fix Lapid’s failures and take care of all of Israel’s citizens.”

During the plenum session, outgoing Justice Minister Gideon Saar addressed the proposed bill and took a shot at Netanyahu. “This bill raises an interesting question: can it be that the designated Prime Minister does not trust his own party members, so he has to bloc them by force from splitting?”

Netanyahu’s main political concerns within Likud are focused on a group of senior party members, including Israel Katz, Dudi Amsalem, David Bitan and Danny Danon. Under the previous law, four MKs could form a new faction in the Knesset without any ramifications. The new law, which rolls back the change initiated by Lapid’s government in order to destabilize Likud, reinstates the previous situation in which at least one-third of a party’s members are needed in order to split and form a new faction.

The bill was the first in a “legislation blitz” that also includes the “Deri Bill,” aimed at enabling the leader of the Shas party, Aryeh Deri, to serve as a minister in the next government despite his recent conviction in tax evasion charges; and the “Ben-Gvir Bill,” aimed at shifting powers from the police commissioner to the designated minister of national security, Itamar Ben-Gvir. Both bills are expected to pass in the next few days, before the new government will be sworn in.

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