Yisrael Beitenu chairman Avigdor Liberman has announced that he will not support the bill allowing political parties to film inside polling stations. "This is a bill to wreck the election, intended to help Likud to steal the election," Liberman said. At the end of a meeting of his party members in the Knesset, in advance of the bill's first reading, Liberman said that he and his colleagues were astonished to see the Likud's bill.
"We supported in principle, and we still support, the installation of cameras, but not party cameras, but rather cameras under state supervision, operated and controlled by a body such as the Central Elections Committee. Cameras controlled by a political party are designed to influence and skew the election," Liberman said.
Liberman's decision means that Likud does not have a majority to pass the polling station cameras bill. The only way that the bill can now pass is if the opposition fails to muster all its Knesset members to attend the vote.
"The Likud party is now entirely preoccupied by the day after Netanyahu. They are talking about it between themselves, and they are talking about it with friends from other parties," Liberman went on to say at the press conference.
The special Knesset committee that sits in the transition period before an election is due to discuss exempting the Likud bill from regular Knesset procedure and approval of it for first reading this afternoon. It could be that the bill will already fall at this stage. Knesset legal counsel Eyal Yinon published an opinion yesterday evening warning that passing such a bill a week before an election would be unconstitutional. He thus joined Central Elections Committee chairman Judge Hanan Melcer and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in their stance that the move would be an improper use of the Knesset by the government in power and contrary to democratic principles. Yinon raised an additional argument, which is that the bill was designed to give an advantage to a particular party, the Likud, and would harm the principle of equality.
In the last election, in April, Likud activists with cameras filmed in polling stations in Arab towns. The Likud claimed that the move was aimed at preventing electoral fraud, but it was widely seen as an attempt to deter Arab voters from exercising their right to vote. Judge Melcer ruled that cameras operated by political parties could not be allowed in polling stations unless there was Knesset legislation on the matter. The Likud is attempting to pass such legislation in an accelerated procedure in advance of the election on September 17.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 9, 2019
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