Edelstein: MKs might leave during Cameron’s speech

Edelstein: MKs might leave during Cameron’s speech

Knesset speaker threatens to cancel British PM’s planned address for fear that opposition will ditch plenum

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90)

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein threatened Tuesday to cancel British Prime Minister David Cameron’s planned speech at the Knesset Wednesday, for fear that opposition MKs may desert the plenum in protest of the so-called Governance Bill.

According to Walla, opposition MKs had discussed the possibility of walking out during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech, which is expected to immediately precede that of Cameron.

Earlier Tuesday, Edelstein met with opposition leader and Labor head Issac Herzog and demanded that Herzog commit that the opposition remain in the plenum throughout the entirety of Cameron’s visit.

Herzog, on his part, assured the Knesset speaker that Cameron’s visit would not be interrupted by any member of the Labor party. However, other opposition MKs did not make the same commitment.

The Knesset on Tuesday passed the so-called Governance Bill, which raises the minimum threshold parties need to enter the Knesset and contains other measures which its backers say will improve stability in the Israeli political system.

The bill, sponsored by Yisrael Beytenu chair and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, was approved by a 67-0 vote with no abstentions or opposition votes, as the voting was boycotted by opposition parties, which claimed the bill deliberately targets minority parties.

The bill raises the minimum threshold for a party to enter the Knesset to 3.25 percent of total votes, as opposed to the previous 2%. This is seen by analysts as having a devastating effect on the three Arab parties, none of which would have cleared the 3.25% threshold if it had applied in the last elections.

The bill also freezes the maximum number of government ministers at 18, and makes it more difficult for Knesset members to succeed in a vote of no-confidence, which is used to bring down a government and call new elections.

Gavriel Fiske contributed to this report

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