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Reasonableness bill approved for final Knesset vote next week amid opposition uproar

Gantz calls on Netanyahu to return to negotiations, promising support for bill in exchange for compromise

Knesset Member Simcha Rotman, head of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee with Knesset Member Ofir Katz after a committee meeting and vote, at the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 19, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee voted to advance the Reasonableness Standard Bill to the Knesset for final readings late Wednesday after a series of marathon sessions to review an unprecedented 27,000 written reservations to the bill by opposition members. 

The bill passed the committee with 9 votes for, 7 votes against, after a disruptive session with some opposition lawmakers and their aids shouting at the Committee's chair, Simcha Rothman. Several of the advisors were removed from the room. 

The Committee of Parliamentary Counselors and Advisors in the Knesset released a statement condemning their actions. 

“We strongly condemn the outburst this evening by a number of advisors against the chairman of the Knesset Constitution Committee. It is not our job to interfere with the work of the Knesset and it is our duty to respect the elected officials even when we do not agree with their opinion,” the statement read. 

Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana instructed the Knesset Sergeant-at-Arms to prevent entry to the Knesset building to the advisors involved in the ruckus until the end of the Knesset summer session. 

Several opposition Knesset members on the committee accused Rothman of mishandling the proceedings and noted several alleged voting irregularities in the counting of votes. 

However, the Knesset's legal advisor, Sagit Afik, said her team had reviewed videos of all the votes and did not find any flaws or discrepancies. 

At the end of the voting, Rothman criticized the opposition Knesset members for behavior, which he called “a total disgrace,” and affirmed that he had accommodated every opposition demand. He also thanked the legal advisors and committee for their hard work during the demanding sessions. 

The Reasonableness Standard Bill will be given a second and third reading in the Knesset plenum on Sunday morning. 

On Wednesday, opposition Knesset Member Benny Gantz, head of the National Unity party, stated that his party would support the Reasonableness Standard Bill if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agrees to stop the current bill and resume negotiations at the President’s Residence. 

Gantz said his party would support negotiating on the reasonableness bill first and also agreed to vote in favor of the final negotiated version. After that, he added, his party will agree to negotiate the rest of the proposed reforms separately. 

The offer would be conditioned upon Netanyahu's agreement to not pursue other reforms independently, Gantz said, insisting that “agreement be met with agreement."

Speaking at a Knesset press conference one hour after President Isaac Herzog finished his address to Congress, Gantz stated: “I call on Netanyahu and all the responsible members of this house – you have a national duty to accept the proposal.” 

“This evening, we can convene at the President’s Residence and discuss finding an agreed-upon framework for the reasonableness test,” Gantz said. 

He stated the revised, agreed-upon version of the bill “will not open a window to corruption and will preserve the principles of democracy.” 

Gantz’s proposal drew immediate criticism from both sides w

Netanyahu's Likud party rejected his proposal as “a dictate,” saying, “Instead of idle exercises, Gantz must demand that his fellow members of the opposition stand this evening resolutely against the [military reservist's] service refusal that endangers the security of all Israeli citizens.” 

“If Gantz seriously wants dialogue and compromise, he’s invited to the Prime Minister’s Office this evening,” Likud said in a statement.

Protest leaders also criticized Gantz’s proposal. 

“The time has come for Gantz to internalize that Netanyahu is lying through his teeth and wants to turn Israel into a dangerous democracy,” they said in a statement. “Only an uncompromising and determined protest will prevent dictatorship.” 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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