Using new law, Shas leader Deri resigns from Knesset to allow new MK to enter
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Using new law, Shas leader Deri resigns from Knesset to allow new MK to enter

Petah Tikva deputy mayor Uriel Busson to become party’s newest lawmaker after Rabbi Baruch Gazahay dropped candidacy amid outcry over his comments disparaging women

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri arrives at the Knesset for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, March 3, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shas party leader Aryeh Deri arrives at the Knesset for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, March 3, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Shas leader and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri resigned from his parliamentary duties late Wednesday night under the new so-called Norwegian Law, making way for the entry of a fresh lawmaker from the party to the Knesset.

The law allows any MK who is appointed to a cabinet post to resign temporarily from the Knesset, thereby permitting the next candidate on the party’s list to enter parliament in his or her stead. Under the bill’s new rules, if that minister later resigns from the cabinet, they would automatically return to the Knesset.

The ultra-Orthodox Shas party had originally planned to use the law to allow Rabbi Baruch Gazahay, the next candidate on Shas’s electoral list, to enter the Knesset but Gazahay withdrew his candidacy Tuesday after numerous video surfaced of him making disparaging statements about women, blaming immodest clothing for breast cancer and miscarriages, and claiming women who expose their bodies are reincarnated as cows.

Instead, Uriel Busso, the deputy mayor of Petah Tikva, will enter the Knesset, He is expected to be sworn in next week.

Rabbi Baruch Gazahay in a recorded lecture posted to YouTube. (Screenshot: YouTube)

Earlier Tuesday, five minister’s from Blue and White — Culture Minister Chili Tropper, Science Minister Izhar Shay, Agriculture Minister Alon Schuster, Tourism Minister Asaf Zamir, and Michael Biton, who is a minister in the Defense Ministry — announced that they would also be resigning under the Norwegian law.

They will be replaced by: Michal Cotler-Wunsh, Einav Kabala, Hila Shay, and Tehila Friedman, who will join the Blue and White faction. The fifth lawmaker is Yorai Lahav-Hertzano, who will join Yesh Atid-Telem, Blue and White’s former partner, in the opposition. Cotler-Wunsh and Friedman had previously been aligned with MK Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem and Yesh Atid respectively, but will not be joining them in opposition.

Under Knesset law, new MKs who are members of a multiparty, or alliance, slate that splits before the government is sworn in can choose which of the parties to represent in parliament.

At least 12 ministers or deputies are expected to eventually use the Norwegian Law, introducing a similar number of new MKs to the Knesset at an estimated cost of around NIS 20 million ($5.7 million) a year.

The Norwegian Law was approved on Monday in its second and third readings with 66 votes in favor and 43 against. It required a majority of 61 votes to pass.

It has faced criticism for increasing government expenditure by maintaining ministers as well as the lawmakers taking their places in the Knesset.

Opposition lawmakers have strongly condemned the legislation, saying the government only needs it because it has allowed the creation of so many cabinet positions under the coalition deal that it doesn’t have enough manpower left to sit in parliament as lawmakers.

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