Yamina uses computer program to generate thousands of amendments

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The amendments, which suggested changing every word in the bill little by little, were used to waste hours of deliberations on the bill on Sunday.

MK Matan Kahana (photo credit: AVISHAG SHAAR-YASHUV)

MK Matan Kahana

(photo credit: AVISHAG SHAAR-YASHUV)

Opposition Knesset members often compete over who can generate the most amendments to filibuster and delay voting on controversial legislation.

After Yesh Atid MK Mickey Levy and his advisers filed more than 1,000 amendments to the bills that facilitated the formation of the current government last month, Yamina MK Matan Kahana decided to outdo him. But Kahana had a disadvantage, because he and his advisers keep Shabbat – and the amendments to the controversial Norwegian Law that would allow as many as 15 new coalition MKs to enter the Knesset had to be submitted to the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee by Sunday morning.

So Kahana’s assistant, Lavi Eisenmannn, turned to his father, computer programmer Shamai Eisenmann, who built a platform of computer programs to create 6,000 amendments in 75 minutes on Saturday night. The story was first revealed on Sunday by the Makor Rishon newspaper.

The amendments, which suggested changing every word in the bill little by little, were used to waste hours of deliberations on Sunday. One of the amendments suggested that the bill would only apply on odd days of the week.

The elder Eisenmann said he created the platform on the Microsoft programs Excel and Visual Basic. Asked by Army Radio whether he would take more steps to replace MKs with computer programs, he said “that might take more time, but it shouldn’t be too complicated.”

Dr. Assaf Shapira, the director of the Political Reform Program at the Israel Democracy Institute, said the amendment making program was proof that legislation must be limited, including private members’ bills, which Israel has more of than any other country. He warned that Eisenmann might have set a harmful precedent.

“The amendment maker is further proof of how extreme it has gotten,” he said. “Israel has a disease of legislatitus. It shows that in Israel legislating is viewed incorrectly and it must be fixed. The answer could be limiting the number of amendments an MK can submit, just like private legislation needs to be limited. We complain about the opposition’s inability to oversee the government, but it has to go both ways: increase the oversight but make the opposition more responsible and take their legislative work more seriously.”

The controversial bill passed its final readings in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Tuesday by a vote of eight to five. The bill will now only need to come to two more votes in the plenum next week to pass into law.

Blue and White desperately wants to pass the bill, because out of its 15 MKs, 12 are ministers. It would enable five ministers in Blue and White and two in other coalition parties to quit the Knesset and be replaced by the next candidates on each party’s list. If the ministers quit the cabinet, they could return to the Knesset at the expense of the new MKs.

New MKs in factions that have split would have 24 hours to decide which one to join. The bill could allow candidates of Yesh Atid and Telem, which are in the opposition, to instead join Blue and White in the coalition.

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