Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

24 Teves 5765 - January 5, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
No Coalition, No Budget

By E. Rauchberger

The Knesset has not been in such a bizarre situation for as long as anyone can remember. Although the Labor Party reached an agreement with the Likud to join the coalition, in practice it has not yet joined. Therefore it is acting like a fence-sitter, neither voting for the government nor against, as if the party were not a part of the Knesset. Not in the coalition, yet not in the opposition either. And when some 20 MKs are neither here nor there the Knesset is almost totally paralyzed.

To finally get the 2005 budget passed in a first reading the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister asked Labor to back the budget in accordance with the coalition agreement between them, but Labor refused because officially the party has yet to join the coalition. Meanwhile the clock keeps ticking away. The budget should have passed second and third readings last week, but January is already here and the budget has not yet passed even a first reading.

Such a situation is unheard of. There have been cases in which the budget was not passed on time in second and third readings, but the present delay sets a dangerous precedent. The reason for the holdup is the need to change the Government Foundation Law to allow Shimon Peres to be appointed a second deputy prime minister alongside Ehud Olmert. And changing the law takes time.

When the Likud Center approved bringing the addition of Labor and the chareidi parties into the coalition Sharon assumed he would be able to set up a new coalition within a matter of days, but several weeks have already gone by since then. The Foundation Law is expected to pass any day now but the new government will not be presented to the Knesset until everything is in place.

Shimon Peres did not hide his displeasure over the red tape involved in amending the Foundation Law. Though Sharon is not responsible for this red tape as far as Peres and the Labor Party are concerned Sharon, Michael Eitan (who is in charge of the matter) and the rest are all one and the same—the Likud.

Meanwhile Labor is troubled by rumors the Likud is seizing the opportunity to execute changes in ministries it expects to receive. Making appointments, handing out funds, etc. Peres, whose patience is already spent and whose heart yearns to take a seat in the government once again, sounded bitter recently. "This cannot go on for long. We cannot remain neither in the coalition nor the opposition. This situation is absurd."

The Barak Law

As soon as he left his post as Minister and returned to the opposition bench MK Ilan Shalgi tabled a bill to extend judges' tenure to the age of 72 instead of the current legal age limit of 70.

The bill appears perfectly innocent at first. All the man wants is to give judges another two years on the bench. In the explanatory material Shalgi contends since the Knesset raised the retirement age from 65 to 67 for men and even more for women the retirement age for judges should be raised as well, especially since septuagenarian judges are still at their peak.

But Shalgi's proposal is not innocent in the least. Just over a year from now High Court President Judge Aharon Barak is expected to reach the age of 70 and to head home. To Shinui, Barak is a god and the proposed legislation is intended to grant him another two years on the bench. In the first stage at least.

Meanwhile Coalition Chairman Gidon Saar is trying to introduce a bit of common sense into the matter of appointing judges. High Court judges have wide-reaching authority and enormous influence on day-to-day life in the State of Israel, sometimes much more than an MK or minister. And unlike MKs and ministers who must be elected by thousands of voters, a judge is selected by as few as 5 backers during closed-door meetings of the Judicial Selection Committee.

Therefore Saar submitted a bill that would require an large majority, i.e. at least 7 of the 9 committee members, which would reduce the ability to guarantee the appointment of a certain candidate by forming a block that rejects every other candidate.

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