Preliminary green light from MKs for dissolution of the Knesset

The coalition led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took the first major step on its way to dissolving the current government on Wednesday, securing the first of four votes needed to dissolve the Knesset and force a snap election.

Unable to agree even on the terms of this dissolution, the opposition and the coalition submitted several separate versions of the legislation – nine for the opposition and two for the coalition.

The first version of the coalition bill was passed with 106 votes in favor and one vote against, while the opposition bills were all passed with more than 89 votes. All will now move on to the Knesset House Committee to prepare for their next vote, the first reading.

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The dissolution process requires four separate votes and two committee reviews, and likely won’t be complete by Wednesday. It should be in the Knesset next week, possibly as early as Monday.

Despite a relatively subdued hour-long debate on the bills, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy rejected attempts to applaud the passage of the 11 preliminary readings to dissolve the Knesset.

“No, no, no, stop. It’s over,” Levy said.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks with fellow coalition MKs ahead of a preliminary vote to dissolve the Knesset for new elections, June 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

On Monday, Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid surprised the nation by announcing their intention to voluntarily dissolve the Knesset and send Israel to its fifth election since 2019.

After months of political instability sparked by the loss of his one-seat majority in early April and exacerbated by security tensions, Bennett and Lapid said they came to their decision after ‘exhausting’ all alternatives to restore order within the coalition.

Following the planned dissolution, Lapid will assume the role of caretaker prime minister until a new government is formed following an election.

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Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrives at the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Speaking on behalf of the government dissolution bill, coalition chairman Boaz Toporovsky, of Lapid’s Yesh Atid faction, defended Bennett’s decision to resort to dissolution, saying it was for the ” good of the state”.

“It is a sad day for democracy. We do this with a heavy heart but wholeheartedly, because the good of the state has always been and will always come before any other good,” Toporovosky said, adding that this remained true even in the face of the “good of politics.” .

Toporovsky also claimed that even in this final phase of dismantling, the opposition was reluctant to cooperate.

“The opposition continues to delay the decision to hold elections. This is an opposition that has fallen in love with the jamming of the governance system,” Toporovsky said.

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett with MK Boaz Toporovsky (R) during a discussion in the Knesset, June 8, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Meretz MP Mossi Raz said the coalition had faced “unprecedented provocations” in a bitter struggle.

“Since day one, this government has faced unprecedented provocations. The opposition did not waver for a moment in its strategy of portraying the government as illegitimate… Faced with these provocations, three right-wing deputies who could not bear the brunt gave in. They are the ones who overthrew the government and we will move on,” he told the plenum.

“After the elections, we will have another government on this model, but improved, with an Arab-Jewish partnership, which will not bow to threats from the right,” Raz said.

Likud faction chairman Yariv Levin, who sponsored one of nine dissolution bills submitted by the opposition, repeated past claims that the Bennett-Lapid government was ‘weak’ and ‘evil’ .

Claiming it was the “worst government in the history of Israel,” Levin added that the government “was established on the basis of blind hatred and an unprecedented misappropriation of voters’ trust. “.

This latest claim refers to the fact that the coalition was built on a campaign platform against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and accusations that right-wing coalition parties betrayed voters by agreeing to join forces with leftist and Arab legislators.

“Today we are putting Israel on a new path. From hate to love,” Mr. Levin said.

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Likud MK Yariv Levin speaks during a discussion and vote on a bill to dissolve the Knesset, June 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

United Torah Judaism MK Yitzhak Pindrus, along with Levin, began their remarks by reciting th sheheheyanu, a celebratory prayer for special occasions. Ultra-Orthodox leaders rejoiced at the impending dissolution of the Knesset and government, and many attributed its downfall to divine intervention.

Sworn in just a year ago, government billed itself as a ‘government of change’, but opposition Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman says it has been unfavorable to Arab society .

The Joint List party, previously allied with Raam, broke with the traditional Arab political line to sit in the coalition.

“The only change is the name change, from Netanyahu to Bennett,” Touma-Sliman said.

“Everything else is a continuation of the same policy, especially when it comes to settlements,” she added.

Although both the government and the opposition recognize that the mandate of the current coalition is over, a debate on how the government will fall and the conditions under which it will do so has been quick to erupt.

The opposition is making a last-ditch effort to bypass the government and end the coalition not through dissolution, but rather by replacing the current government with its own government.

The Likud-led opposition and its leader Netanyahu have an option to bypass the election and immediately take the reins of power: if the right-wing religious bloc, which has 55 seats, manages to attract at least six additional MKs of the coalition, he could immediately form a new government within the current Knesset.

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MK Idit Silman, a former Yamina coalition whip who left the coalition in May, and Religious Zionism party MK Simcha Rotman speak ahead of a preliminary vote to dissolve the Knesset for new elections, June 22, 2022 (Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The opposition has been pursuing this strategy since April, when former coalition chair and Bennett’s Yamina MP Idit Silman resigned from the coalition and forced it to 60-60 seat parity with the opposition. . The opposition reportedly tried to attract other defector MPs from the right and center of the coalition, but two and a half months later only one other MP – Nir Orbach, also from Yamina – defected.

The coalition is an alliance of eight parties from all walks of life, formed to prevent Netanyahu from remaining at the helm of Israel after 12 consecutive years in power.

Although it has tried to avoid ideological roadblocks, political debates and security incidents – which cut to the heart of ideological divisions – have made the political alliance increasingly difficult to manage.

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Discussion and vote on a bill to dissolve the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

In public, opposition leaders allied with Netanyahu have expressed confidence that their parties will win a majority in the elections, but behind closed doors they have been more wary of a vote, a Channel 12 reported Tuesday.

At the same time, polls have shown that if the current political blocs remain static, the situation is likely to remain deadlocked after the election. Polls consistently indicate that parties loyal to Netanyahu would fare better in elections, but be unable to secure a majority. The Arab-majority Joint List, which supports neither side, holds the balance of power.

Bennett’s Yamina party, however, made no statement that it would not sit with Netanyahu. In fact, his two defectors are currently advocating for an alternative Likud-led government, and Bennett’s longtime Yamina partner — Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked — is reportedly actively exploring the issue. possibility of allying with the largest right-wing party.

With the Yamina seats, a right-religious alliance would be strong enough according to the polls to build a close coalition.

Opposition party leaders Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism, Aryeh Deri of Shas and Bezalel Smotrich of the Religious Zionism party all fear the far-right lawmaker is robbing them of their voters, according to a Channel 12 report . Ben Gvir, a staunch far-right advocate who leads Otzma Yehudit, affiliated with Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party, has grown in popularity and may be in a strong position to impose his demands on Smotrich.

The elections will probably take place at the end of October or the beginning of November.

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Preliminary green light from MKs for dissolution of the Knesset

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