Bill on Cabinet’s Collective Responsibility Criticized in Knesset

The Mapai-sponsored bill on collective responsibility for Israel’s new Cabinet ran into a barrage of severe criticism at its first reading yesterday in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament.

Deputies of various parties called the proposal a redundant one which would not add to the prestige of Israel. The measure provides that a Cabinet member who fails to support a Cabinet position in the Knesset, either by voting against or abstaining from voting on a measure embodying such a Government position, shall be deemed to have automatically resigned.

Another provision is that if the party of a Cabinet member similarly fails to support a Government bill and the Government within a week of the Knesset vote on that bill decides that the party violated collective responsibility, then that party’s Minister in the Cabinet will be considered as having resigned.

Herut leader Menahem Beigin said the bill infringed on the authority of the Knesset because it was an attempt to impose Government control over proposed legislation. Liberal party deputy Izhar Harari asserted that the bill stemmed from an incident in the third Knesset when Achdut Avoda voted against the Government on the issue of Israel arms sales to West Germany but refused to quit the Cabinet. He contended that if mutual confidence did not exist between the coalition partners, the bill would not serve any purpose.

Others criticized the measure on grounds that it made a Cabinet member responsible for the vote of his party. Justice Minister Dov Joseph, who presented the bill, said it was designed to prevent a member of the Government from belonging in effect both to the Government and to the opposition simultaneously. He said the bill incorporated the concept that if a party was unable or unwilling to accommodate to the rulings of the majority in the Government, it should quit the coalition.

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