Knesset Passes Laws Clearing Coalition Hurdles, Netanyahu Govt Swearing-in Scheduled Thursday
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JERUSALEM, Israel – The Israeli Knesset passed several laws Monday in an all night session, clearing the way to seal agreements for Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition to form a government. Swearing-in for the new government is scheduled for Thursday, although opposition members plan to filibuster and delay the proceedings for as long as possible. Temporary Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin also resigned after the legislative flurry and is slated to become justice minister in the new government.
Two bills known as the "Smotrich Law" and the "Deri Law" passed their second and third readings early Tuesday morning, enabling them to become law. The "Smotrich Law" transfers authority for administration of civilian affairs in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) from the Defense Ministry to the Finance Ministry to be headed by Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich.
Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria have been under the military authority of the Israel Defense Forces since Israel gained control of the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War. One of the key platforms for the Relgious Zionist Party is the application of Israeli civilian law to residents of West Bank Jewish communities. Smotrich's new portfolio includes authority over construction permits for Jewish comunities in Judea and Samaria.
The second law, the "Deri Law," will allow the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party leader Aryeh Deri to serve as Interior Minister despite a conviction on a tax charge last year, along with a suspended jail sentence as part of a plea deal that enabled him to take part in November's elections.
Opposition members strongly objected to the law in the all-night debate. “The law is a bad law, a bad law that was extorted from the prime minister and damages the value of purity of public service, for personal reasons,” said Gideon Sa'ar, former Likud member now aligned with Benny Gantz's National Union Party.
Deri's opponents petitioned Israel's High Court of Justice to block the Deri Law, but the court ruled it would not prevent Deri from being sworn in on Thursday.
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