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Vote on Electoral Reform Corrected, but Fate of Bill Remains in Doubt

January 10, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel’s controversial electoral reform bill has received a belated reprieve from Knesset Speaker Dov Shilansky, though its fate remains highly doubtful.

Reversing his earlier position, Shilansky on Thursday declared Tuesday night’s 57-57 tie vote void, after it was determined that the call by one member was counted twice.

A tie would automatically have killed a key section of the measure that provides for the direct election of the prime minister. The provision is opposed by the Likud leadership and by most of the religious bloc’s Knesset members.

Despite the closeness of Tuesday’s vote, the forces arrayed against the bill seem strong enough to defeat it when it comes up for its third and final reading in parliament, probably Monday.

That is because the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party has been fiercely pressured by its smaller Ashkenazic counterpart, Degel HaTorah, to fall in line behind Degel’s sage, Rabbi Eliezer Schach of Bnei Brak, who supports Likud against the bill.

Degel’s newspaper, Yated Ne’eman, published a sharp attack Thursday on two Shas Knesset members, Arye Gamliel and Yair Levy, for absenting themselves from the chamber during Tuesday’s roll call.

The newspaper warned of a complete rupture between the Ashkenazic and Sephardic components of the ultra-Orthodox bloc in the coalition government, unless the entire five-member Shas Knesset delegation complies with Schach’s wishes on the third reading.

Communications Minister Rafael Pinhasi of Shas predicted Thursday that all five would do so.

Haim Ramon, head of the Labor Party’s Knesset faction, which ardently backs electoral reform, admitted supporters face an uphill fight.

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