The Knesset plenum approved on Monday night the first reading of a bill that would suspend enforcement of the law that limits the number of ministerial positions in the government at 18.
In rare fashion, due to the fragile nature of the coalition, all 120 Knesset members were present for the vote, which passed 61 to 59. This marks the first test of the emerging coalition’s strength, as it needed to ensure that all 61 coalition members would vote in favor.
A special committee convened to push the bill forward will prepare it for a second and third reading later Monday night. On Tuesday, the opposition is expected to present thousands of reservations regarding the bill’s various clauses, during a hearing that will last until Wednesday evening, just before the final vote on the bill.
Earlier on Monday, the High Court of Justice rejected a petition to block Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to increase the number of ministers in the next cabinet, in an amendment the Basic Law.
The amendment would enable Netanyahu to appoint ministers without portfolio and increase the number of deputy ministers in the next coalition. He intends, at this point, to appoint 20 ministers within the narrow government he managed to consolidate. The draft of the bill states that the cost of additional ministers is irrelevant.
The petition to block the amendment from going through was submitted by Yesh Atid to prevent the amendment from going through, the court ruled it to be irrelevant. "After overusing the response of the defendants and the stance of the attorney general, I saw no reason to grant the requested injunction," said Supreme Court justice Dafna Barak-Erez.
Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon wrote in his response to the High Court that the request to issue an injunction was "baseless and most extreme. The proposal has not yet been brought to the Knesset table and has not yet been debated by any element in Knesset."