Likud Ousts Rogue MKs From Key Committee as Divisive Bill Rattles Netanyahu Coalition

The chairman of Israel's Likud party removed two MKs from a Knesset committee over their opposition to legislation proposed by the ultra-Orthodox Shas party to give the gov't the power to appoint city rabbis

June 18th, 17PM June 18th, 19PM

Likud lawmakers Tally Gotliv and Moshe Saada were removed Tuesday from the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee by their own party over their opposition to a contentious bill that would give the government control over the appointment of municipal rabbis.

The unusual move comes just one day before the committee was due to vote on advancing the bill to a first reading. The coalition does not currently have a majority to advance the legislation.

The law would transfer the authority to appoint municipal rabbis from the hands of the local authorities to the Religious Services Ministry. The bill, which was submitted by Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman and Erez Malul of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, would create hundreds of new city rabbi posts and the appointment of 600 new ones. Rothman and Malul proposed that the panel that chooses the rabbis be largely under the control of the ministry.

Three coalition members who sit on the committee – Gotliv, Saada, and Yitzhak Kroizer of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party – said on Monday that they would vote against the legislation introduced by the Shas party. Kreuzer will not be removed from his post on the committee. Likud chairman Ofir Katz gave Gotliv and Saada notice of their removal by phone on Tuesday.

Following the decision to remove her from the committee, Gotliv said "Likud voters, I am ashamed that coalition chairman Ofir Katz is a pawn of [Shas chairman Aryeh] Dery and Netanyahu ... It's in your hands to choose brave Knesset members that work for you, and not for Aryeh Dery and [Finance Minister Bezalel] Smotrich, who enact the corrupt jobs law during wartime. Disgusting."

Gotliv addressed Dery in a post on X and said that she would vote against the law, writing, "You won't be able to remove me from the Knesset as well. I won't be the only one to vote against it there."

Rothman, who is the chairman of the Knesset committee, also came under fire from city mayors on Tuesday the amid deliberations over the bill.

The mayors said Rothman shouldn't be wasting valuable time on the legislation at a time when Israel is contending with the war in Gaza and growing clashes on the border with Lebanon.

"I can only say that you must be ashamed," Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam told Rothman. "Instead of debating how to best help Ashkelon and pass legislation easing taxes for a city that has contended with the murders of 30 residents, I've been left to work alone. You've called me here for an hour while I have to manage a city that is still at war."

"At a time like this, to introduce this stupid legislation that will lead to the Knesset's dissolution. Not one Knesset member is doing Ashkelon any good. I'm struggling for every shekel to finish the [budgetary] year, and you talk about paying for rabbis. I don't get you," Glam said.

Benny Biton, Dimona's mayor, was also critical. "I'm Bibi Netanyahu's best friend and I bear no grudge against the prime minister … [but] this is a serious mistake in a time of war," he said. "My city has suffered 22 war casualties, more than any [other city] other than Modiin ... I went to help bury them all, I was their casualty officer. Now, I have to worry whether I will have a rabbi or not," he said.

Biton then turned to Shas chairman Arye Dery and said, "Don't pass this despicable law. If you want to cause this government to collapse, this is the formula. We aren't threatening, we will act."

"While we are sitting here in the committee, I am getting WhatsApp messages from my friends in a unit now entering Gaza, and I'm ashamed – ashamed that I write to them about where I am, that I'm sitting here and dealing with the law about jobs and shady dealings," said Herzliya Mayor Yariv Fisher.

"We, the heads of the authorities, know how to work well together – we know how to do what's needed. Drop this law – it's not needed, because you do not have a majority for it," he said.

Rothman said at the start of the deliberations that the bill would not advance Tuesday to the first of three readings if the committee could not agree on it. He expressed anger at Gotliv and Saada for saying they would vote against it. "It is a shame and disgrace," he said. "I say to you Moshe [Saada], to you Tally [Gotliv], you were silent during the three months of delays [in attacking] Rafah, but about the rabbis' law ..."

"All I'm asking from you is proportion, and it is in this spirit I said I was coming to the talks with the heads of the coalition," Rothman continued. "We came to an agreement on this law, we did the essential discussions. Now, we will have a substantive discussion. If we do not reach an agreement at the end of this discussion, we will not hold a vote. I only ask that we conduct this discussion in a businesslike manner. To those who want to shout and protest, I don't think this is the place."

Rothman expelled MK Yorai Lahav-Hertzanu of the Yesh Atid party from the committee session after the latter argued with him. "We've gone back to October 6," Lahav-Hertzanu shouted.

2024-06-18T14:54:04Z dg43tfdfdgfd