During a meeting with Likud party ministers on Sunday, 20 Teves, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu explained the importance of passing two bills this week as part of their coalition commitments. One bill is Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Death Penalty Bill, referring to convicted terrorists. The second is the chareidi parties’ bill dubbed the Shabbos/Makolet Bill, giving the Interior Ministry authority to supersede local government and order the closure of stores on Shabbos.
Netanyahu is facing a dilemma, one that may spell the end of the coalition for the chareidi parties, Shas and Yahadut Hatorah, have stipulated the coalition agreements give them the right to protect the Shabbos status quo, which is what they are doing, adding the passage of the bill is a deal-breaker for as far as the coalition goes.
Despite advising faction members there is party discipline invoked for this vote, compelling them all to vote in favor. However, MK Sharen Haskel signals she will defy party discipline and vote against it. Making things worse for Mr. Netanyahu is the fact that Ministers Ofir Akunis and Gila Gamliel both feel voting in favor of the bill will have profound negative consequences for Likud.
The chairman of the Likud, MK David Amsellem, has turned to the Likud’s Supreme Court, seeking to have Haskel ousted ahead of the vote for being unwilling to abide by party discipline.
The prime minister’s response, a simple one. It all does not matter other than they are bound to comply with coalition agreements. Even Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a close ally of the prime minister, is calling to permit freedom of vote, letting each MK vote his/her own conscious and not be bound by party discipline.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)