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Sunday, October 8, 2006
Detailed review of Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman's proposal to change government structure

Detailed review of Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman's proposal to
change government structure

Aaron Lerner Date: 8 October, 2006

A spokesperson for Israel Beiteinu has provided IMRA with the complete text
of the legislation that Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman plans to
propose at the start of the upcoming winter Knesset session.

The main feature of the law is that under no circumstances can early
elections take place for the prime minister unless the serving prime
minister wants the elections to take place. If he dies or is removed from
office he is replaced by his deputy who serves the rest of the term. Under
previous direct election law this would lead to new elections. Those
familiar with American political history might term the provision that
removing the prime minister leaves the control of the government in the
hands of the deputy a "Spiro T. Agnew" provision. During the Nixon
administration's first term posters featuring a photo of vice president
Agnew were popular with the line "Keep Nixon Alive". Agnew resigned in 1973
following evidence of tax evasion.

The prime minister appoints ministers who then cannot serve in the Knesset.
The Knesset does not approve the appointments.

The other key feature is that any party that gets less than 10% of the valid
votes (the equivalent of 12 Knesset seats) would not be represented in the
Knesset. While the religious parties could possibly unite to insure that
they pass this minimum threshold the Arab parties combined might not make
this cut nor would smaller parties such as Meretz. It is noteworthy that
other countries with high minimums have experienced unexpected results (for
example Turkey) when major moderate parties competing for the same votes
found themselves below the threshold.

The following is a review of details of changes from the current law:

The prime minister is elected in direct elections [3. (B)]

The prime minister appoints the ministers - Knesset approval of the
appointments is not required (currently it is required) ministers [3. (C)]

Prime minister has to be at least 35 years old [last direct elections was
30] [8. (A)(1)

70,000 voters can nominate a candidate for PM (who is running at the head of
a list running for the Knesset) - up from 50,000 [9. (A)(1)]

If a nominated candidate for PM dies or is unable to be a candidate for
health reasons after nominations are closed this does not delay elections
(under previous direct election law it would postpone elections 4 weeks from
this incident) [12.(A)]

Ministers do not serve in the Knesset [16. (E)]

If the prime minister resigns he is replaced by his deputy who serves the
rest of the term (under previous direct election law this would lead to new
elections) [21. (C)]

The new law does not set what crimes would justify removal of the prime
minister, only saying that "it will be set in the law". Previous laws
referred to offenses involving "moral turpitude" and "moral turpitude" still
appears in the proposed law for ministers. A prime minister removed for
criminal activity is replaced by his deputy who serves the rest of the term
(under previous direct election law this would lead to new elections) [24.]

The prime minister can be removed by a vote of 80 MKs and is then replaced
by his deputy who serves the rest of the term (under previous direct
election law this would lead to new elections) [25 (E)]

If the prime minister dies or is permanently unable to serve he is replaced
by his deputy who serves the rest of the term (under previous direct
election law this would lead to new elections) [26.]

The new law leaves open how the prime minister can remove a minister
("details will be set in the law") while the current law addresses this is
detail [30. (A)]

Only parties that get at least 10% of the valid votes in the Knesset
elections get seats in the Knesset (minimum of 12 MKs) [41. (A)]

No president [43.]

Authority of the president transferred to the prime minister [44. (C)]
This includes pardoning criminals.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
INTERNET ADDRESS: imra@netvision.net.il
Website: http://www.imra.org.il

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