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Gantz delays anti-discrimination law after majority of MKs oppose it

Blue and White says it will put the proposal, one of several the party is pushing as coalition appears poised to collapse, to a vote next week instead

Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Knesset on December 1, 2020. (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool/Flash90)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Knesset on December 1, 2020. (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool/Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party pulled a bill aimed at making discrimination illegal before it was to be voted on Wednesday, after failing to garner the necessary support for the measure from fellow lawmakers.

The proposal is part of a batch of bills opposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud that Blue and White has raised as the short-lived coalition appears poised to collapse.

The measure had been scheduled to come up for a preliminary vote immediately ahead of a motion for the Knesset to disband, which passed on preliminary reading with Blue and White’s support, moving Israel closer to its fourth election in under two years.

Blue and White withdrew the proposal because MKs Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser of the coalition’s Derech Eretz party wouldn’t support it, according to the Haaretz daily, depriving the bill of majority support.

Likud, United Torah Judaism and Shas also oppose the bill, as does the opposition Yamina party.

Blue and White said the bill will be brought for a vote next week instead.

MKs Yoaz Hendel (L) and Zvi Hauser at the Knesset on April 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The bill, named “The Basic Law: Equality” is “aimed to enshrine the right to equality and the prohibition of discrimination,” according to Blue and White.

The principle of equality is not explicitly stated in Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, but judges have interpreted “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty” to include it.

The party is also pushing two other bills as part of the same effort, including one that would expand surrogacy rights for would-be parents. Currently, only heterosexual couples are entitled to surrogacy rights inside the country, forcing many LGBT families to have children abroad.

A third bill, “The Basic Law: The Declaration of Independence,” would require judges to “interpret all Israeli legislation, including other Basic Laws, in light of the Declaration of Independence as a constitutional document.”

Bringing the proposals to the Knesset without specific agreement from Likud violates a clause in the coalition agreement between the parties.

Benny Gantz, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset during a vote for the parliament to dissolve itself, on December 2, 2020. (Danny Shem Tov/ Knesset Spokesperson)

Gantz announced Tuesday that his party would support the motion to dissolve the Knesset, accusing Netanyahu of committing an “economic terror attack” by refusing to allow the 2020 and 2021 budgets to move forward.

The bill, which passed 61-54, requires three additional votes to become law.

If the Knesset dissolution bill isn’t ultimately approved, the government has until December 23 to pass a 2020 budget or it will fall anyway and elections will automatically be scheduled for March 23, 2021, the fourth in less than two years.

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