The coalition was discussing next steps on Tuesday after two MPs from the ruling alliance voted against a major bill on Monday evening – contributing to the rejection of the legislation and further undermining jeopardize the already struggling government.
The legislation that was rejected would renew a measure to apply Israeli civil and criminal law to settlers in the West Bank. They thus jeopardize the adoption of the law before the deadline for its approval – June 30 – and they place the already tottering coalition in greater difficulty. Justice Minister Gideon Saar, who oversaw the bill that was introduced, said before the vote that it was a crucial test for the viability and survival of the coalition, which lost its parliamentary majority.
Legislator Mazen Ghanaim of Raam and Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi of Meretz spoke out against the text. Raam’s three other parliamentarians and Yamina’s rebel MP, Idit Silman, were absent from this plenary session. 52 people finally voted “for” the measure proposed by Saar and 58 “against”.
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The coalition took another hit when rebel Yamina MP Idit Silman voted against the coalition trying to reappoint lawmaker from her party, Matan Kahana, as minister of religious affairs. It is the first time Silman has voted against the ruling alliance since she quit in early April.
Among the initiatives currently being considered by the coalition following the vote is the removal of Silman from her post — she is currently chair of the Knesset Health Committee, Channel 12 noted. The coalition is not yet planning to launch a procedure that would officially declare it defective.
Saar’s Tikva Hadasha formation is due to regroup on Tuesday afternoon to consider its future within the current coalition, the channel said.
Elsewhere, immense pressure has been brought to bear on Ghanaim and Rinawie Zoabi, demanding their resignation as the coalition seeks to replace them with other lawmakers from Meretz and Raam who would likely support the West Bank law during a subsequent vote.
The ruling alliance will be able to put the text to the vote each week before it expires at the end of June. If the government is dissolved by then, the deadline for passing the bill will automatically be extended until a new coalition can pass it.
“Those who cannot live with this coalition must leave. Those who can must commit themselves to it. We can’t play double game, ”said the Minister of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday morning during a Democrat TV conference.
Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz, Minister of Health, stressed the importance of preventing opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu from returning to power and said that anyone who does not firmly commit in the coalition were free to leave.
“This government is important to us and it is important to Israel. Meretz accomplished a lot within it. We are determined to replace Netanyahu and stop [les leaders d’extrême-droite Bezalel] Smotrich and [Itamar] Ben Gvir. Meretz will not participate in a process that would result in their return to power,” he promised.
“It requires effort and hard decisions. Those who fail to overcome these difficulties are asked to leave. I work tirelessly to preserve this government and prevent new elections. I am convinced that we will get there,” he continued.
The coalition is also considering blocking the bills proposed by Ghanaim and Rinawie Zoabi in an attempt to push them out. The final decision to resign nevertheless rests solely with the legislator concerned.
Meretz MP Yair Golan criticized his party member Rinawie Zoabi and Raam for their work undermining the ruling alliance. “I think the parliamentarians of Raam [qui ont voté contre la loi ou qui étaient absents de la séance à ce moment-là] made a fatal mistake. And I’m disappointed with Zoabi,” he told Ynet.
Ghanaim, on the other hand, defended his decision to vote against the bill. “I will continue to vote in accordance with my values,” he told the Walla news site.
“It is Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who has not been able to retain the support of his party members, who should be held responsible for his actions,” added the parliamentarian from Raam.
Ghanaim accused Bennett’s government of failing “to make this experiment work”, referring to Raam’s integration into the coalition – the first Arab party to take part in a ruling alliance in decades.
After Ghanaim opposed the text on Monday evening, MP Yamina Nir Orbach called out to him loudly: “Being partners doesn’t interest you. The experience with you failed”.
Bennett, for his part, insisted the coalition would survive. When the Ynet site asked him if the existence of the coalition was coming to an end, the leader of Yamina replied: “Absolutely not”.
Speaking during a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday morning, Bennett praised his government’s achievements since taking office a year ago.
“It has been the quietest year for southern residents since the 2005 disengagement [de Gaza] “said the Prime Minister, who also cited the strategic successes achieved against Iran and against violence in the Arab community.
A recent poll that was conducted by Channel 12 found that Netanyahu’s bloc would win 59 seats if elections were to be held today, giving him a near majority in the 120-seat Knesset – but also suggested a new political deadlock if the current government were to collapse. The Jewish state has endured four grueling election cycles since 2019, with opposing blocs struggling to form a solid majority in the Knesset.
Tobias Siegal and Carrie Keller-Lynn contributed to this article.
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