Israel: Controversial electricity bill passes into law

i24NEWS

3 min read
Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett confronts opposition members during a plenum session and a vote on an electricity bill at Israel's parliament, Jerusalem, January 5, 2022.
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett confronts opposition members during a plenum session and a vote on an electricity bill at Israel's parliament, Jerusalem, January 5, 2022.

The law will allow tens of thousands of illegally built Arab homes to be hooked up to electricity and water

Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his coalition on Wednesday passed into law the controversial electricity bill, which will allow tens of thousands of illegally built Arab homes in Israel to be hooked up to electricity, water, and telephone lines.

The final vote passed 61-0 after the opposition boycotted the vote in protest against the coalition’s handling of the debate.

"I will not participate in this farce," opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said, The Jerusalem Post (The Post) reported.

Netanyahu is now expected to convene the heads of right-wing parties to consider boycotting Israel’s parliament (Knesset).

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Members of the opposition party Likud heckled Bennett and MK Nir Orbach, a member of the coalition party Yamina, for voting against an amendment that called for hooking up illegal Israeli outposts in the West Bank to similar utilities. 

Bennett stood up and verbally confronted the Likud members taunting Orbach.

Following the vote on the outpost amendment, the opposition walked out of the final vote on the electricity bill.

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"We will not surrender to bullying," Bennett said after the incident, The Post reported.

"I'm not afraid of you, and I won't let you burn down the country."

The opposition parties also boycotted the debate on Tuesday night, and Knesset legal adviser Sagit Afek ruled that filibusters should have been permitted on the issue.

In an intense debate on Wednesday morning, its sponsor Waleed Taha, Knesset Interior Committee chairman and member of the Islamist Ra’am party, defended the bill in Arabic.

When Likud member David Amsalem asked Taha to speak in Hebrew, Taha replied: “If you don’t understand Arabic, that’s your fault.”