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Metro funding, visa waiver bills left off agenda for final Knesset plenum

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks at the Maariv conference in Herzliya, on December 7, 2021. ( Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks at the Maariv conference in Herzliya, on December 7, 2021. ( Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

A bill providing funding and an oversight mechanism for the Tel Aviv Metro subway system and legislation that may help Israel join the US’s Visa Waiver Program will remain on indefinite hold when the 24th Knesset wraps up its final session later Monday.

Neither piece of legislation is on the agenda for the plenum and both remain stalled, sources close to coalition and opposition negotiators confirm to The Times of Israel.

However, a bill to enable GPS monitoring of domestic abusers under a restraining order is expected to pass its first reading later this afternoon.

The only other bill on the agenda — a proposal to necessitate video documentation of all police uses of water cannons to disperse crowds — is similarly expected to pass its first reading.

The bills were left over following a Thursday blitz to clear the Knesset’s slate ahead of dispersal, which will become official following Monday’s session. Coalition lawmakers initially also hoped to bring the metro and visa-waiver bills.

Although the plenum is going on recess, passing the bills through their first readings will freeze the legislative process rather than resetting it, allowing it to be re-submitted in the next Knesset without losing its place in line. This can save months, or even years, of legislative efforts.

According to rules released by the Knesset’s House Committee today, if the government or 25 MKs want to convene the plenum, they can. But only legislation approved via the Agreements Committee — which will be staffed by coalition whip Boaz Toporovsky and a yet-to-be-named opposition lawmaker — will come to a vote.

The plenum is also expected to vote on two hotly debated orders coming down from Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman. The orders, which will gradually reduce tariffs on imported fruits and vegetables, have been touted by Liberman as measures to reduce cost of living. The farm lobby, on the other hand, says the competition it will introduce will hurt domestic growers and can threaten Israel’s ability to control its own food supply.

Today is the Knesset’s last legislative day before breaking for election recess in anticipation of the November 1 electoral contest. Israel’s 24th Knesset formally disbanded itself on Thursday.

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