Knesset votes on controversial bills postponed following coalition infighting

Coalition parties Kulanu and Jewish Home clashed yesterday over the regulation bill, forcing the Knesset to postpone the vote on the issue. As a result, voting has also been delayed on additional legislation.

Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon told the security cabinet yesterday morning that his faction of ten MKs could not support the regulation bill, which would retroactively legalise West Bank outposts established on private Palestinian land. The legislation is spearheaded by Jewish Home, which is pushing heavily to prevent the evacuation of the Amona outpost. The High Court ruled that Amona was built illegally and must be dismantled by 25 December.

Kahlon apparently said that he would not approve an attempt to effectively “overrule” the court. Maariv reports that a Jewish Home official responded by saying that without the bill “there is no government”.

Coalition Chairman, Likud MK David Bitan was forced to postpone a vote on the bill until Monday, as he feared that there would be no majority in favour. This prompted Jewish Home to insist that if Kulanu is not forced to vote for the regulation bill, that it too would not be bound by coalition discipline.

Bitan also postponed a Knesset vote on the Muezzin bill, which would ban the use of loudspeakers to amplify the Muslim call to prayer between 11pm and 7am. Proposed by MKs from Jewish Home and Yisrael Beitenu, the legislation has been criticised by opponents as unnecessary and inflammatory.

Following the Jewish Home threat to breach coalition discipline, one of its MKs, Bezalel Smotrich voted with the opposition on a bill introduced by Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit regarding aid for communities in northern Israel.

Opposition leader and Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog responded to yesterday’s coalition discord. He said: “The time has come for the [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu government to admit its failure in running the country, and to make fateful decisions.”

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