The Knesset (Israeli Parliament) approved this morning a amendment to Basic Law of Israelthe closest thing the country has to a constitution, which clears the way for the formation of the new government of Benjamin Netanyahuas it is required by two of its main partners to support it.
This amendment to the Basic Law allows the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, aryeh derican be a minister despite having been convicted and disqualified for fiscal fraud; and that the leader of Religious Zionism, Bezalel Smotrichcan occupy a position with the rank of minister within the Ministry of Defense, in charge of policies in the West Bank.
They were presented as two separate bills, already dubbed the Deri Law and Smotrich Lawrespectively, but since both imply a reform of the Basic Law, they advance in the Knesset as a combined amendment which was approved in third and final reading this morning by a majority of 63 votes against 55 against.
These laws that require modifying the Basic Law were demands by both politicians to join the government coalition led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which is expected to be voted on in the Knesset this Thursday, when they will be formally sworn in.
The Basic Law is the body of thirteen fundamental laws of the State of Israelin the absence of a Constitution, something that was never approved due to pressure from religious parties who consider that the maximum law should never be earthly, but that the basic norm is in the Torah and other Jewish sacred texts.
With this amendment, Smotrich, a settler in the far right jewish supremacistwill command wide functions within Defense, an important ministry for Israel now without a head, having the last word on military and civil policies in the West Bank, as well as on the construction and expansion of settlements in that area.
The still Minister of Defense, Benny Gantzcriticized the idea of allowing Smotrich to oversee security and settlement policies in the West Bank, and warned that the “dismantling of the chain of command would impair the functioning of the security system”, something that also concerns the high command of the Army.
Disabled for corruption
On the other hand, Deri, who will be the deputy prime minister of the Government, will be able to become a minister again despite having been disabled to do so at the beginning of this year, since the law that bears his name relaxes the eligibility to hold a position at that level, which will only be vetoed for those who have spent time in prison.
Deri’s prison sentence was suspended upon reaching a plea agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office that released from jail for tax fraud, a crime for which he was convicted in the past.
Smotrich will be the head of Finance in the first half of the legislature; while Deri will be in charge of the Interior and Health portfolios; positions that will be exchanged in the middle of the government.
Before he is sworn in in the Knesset on Thursday, the call must also be approved in full Ben Gvir Lawa demand of the extremist Itamar Ben Gvirleader of the most right-wing party in the Israeli Jewish Power political arc, to sign the coalition pact with Netanyahu’s Likud and the other four parties that support him.
According to negotiations, Ben Gvir – convicted in the past for incitement to racism, vandalism and support for a terrorist organization– will be the Minister of National Security, with control over the police forces, but has demanded a law that gives his ministry broad powers of command over the police, even over that of the general commissioner.
(With information from EFE)
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