JERUSALEM -- After his decisive victory at the polls in March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is having a heckuva time putting together a coalition to govern.
He succeeded -- finally, barely -- last week when he announced that his next government would be composed of five parties with 61 seats in the 120-seat parliament. The wafer-thin majority has led many Israeli pundits to declare the new government as unstable as uranium and predicting imminent meltdown.
To form his fourth government, Netanyahu -- known to everyone here by his nickname “Bibi” (see below) needs to pad the number of cabinet posts beyond the 18 allowed by law and hand out a lot of patronage jobs described as “minister without portfolio” -- mostly do-nothing perches that come with a fancy title, fat staff and office budgets of $5 million.
The opposition is fighting back, seeking to delay by Israeli-style filibuster a final vote on a bill granting Netanyahu more posts by bogging down debate with thousands of motions.
Knesset correspondent Akiva Novick at the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth posted a list “of some of the more original and weird motions that the opposition put on the agenda with the goal of wearing down the coalition.”
Here are his top 9 (translation by the service Israel News Today):
A motion to replace the word “cabinet” that appears in the bill with the words “Bibi’s crew.”
A motion to add to the end of the various clauses in the bill the words “just kidding.”
A motion to turn Netanyahu into the prime minister of everyone, “except anyone who throngs to polling stations in buses.” (Netanyahu famously warned his voters on the eve of the last election that Arabs were being bused to the polls by liberals and voting “in droves.”)
A motion stipulating that the government’s seat is not in Jerusalem but “on Mount Olympus.”
A motion to replace the words “minister without portfolio” with “an MK who knowingly wastes public funds.” (MK stands for Member of Knesset).
A motion to apply the law only during even years or during years in which “the weather is pleasant.”
A motion that would oblige the deputy prime minister by law to send Netanyahu flowers once a week.
A motion to stipulate in the bill that it is designed to “keep the prime minister’s address on Balfour Street in Jerusalem.” (At the official residence).
A motion to have double padding installed into all the MKs’ seats.