Israel’s brand new government consisting of eight political parties will be voted upon in a special Knesset session on Sunday at 4 p.m.
The confidence vote is expected to pass by a razor-thin majority of 61 votes to 59 in the plenum, after Yamina MK Nir Orbach confirmed he will vote in favour of the “change-bloc”.
“This is not an easy decision,” Orbach wrote on his Facebook page, “but it is what is called for in light of the governmental instability, the violent discourse and the sense of chaos verging on civil war”. Orbach continued his lengthy piece by stating that “After an unending impasse, the time is right to try to rewrite the challenges of the Zionist vision and the shared values of Israeli society in the coming years.”
He also blasted the Religious Zionists party by writing, “It has aligned with far- right extremists and religious elements that do not represent me or the community I come from.”
Nir Orbach was reportedly offered a ministerial post in return for his vote. However Yamina’s seventh MK, Amichai Chikli announced last week, he could not support the Left-Centre-Right-Islamist pact.
Likud faction chairman Micky Zohar said in response to the Orbach announcement, “In the end, Naftali Bennett’s opportunism won over ideology.”
Speaking on Kan Radio, Zohar told listeners, “If the government falls, Bennett’s political career is over, so there is concern that his decisions are led by considerations of personal survival and not what is good for the country.”
On the subject of replacing Binyamin Netanyahu as head of the Likud, Zohar stressed, “This is not on the table and Netanyahu is expected to lead the opposition in the Knesset and head the Likud into the next election”.
However Kan reported earlier this week that Health Minister, Yuli Eidelstein planned to seek the party leadership, while another potential candidate, Finance Minister Yisrael Katz denied that he was planning to mount a campaign to unseat Netanyahu.
But for now, the focus is on the confidence vote on Sunday for the new government. If successful, Naftali Bennett will be sworn-in as Prime Minister after 12 consecutive years (4458 days) of Binyamin Netanyahu. The alternate Prime Minister, Yair Lapid and the cabinet will then be sworn-in and the Knesset will vote to remove Likud Knesset speaker MK Yariv Levin, who will be replaced by a Yesh Atid MK.
The coalition agreements of the emerging government must formally be handed to the Knesset, 24 hours before the vote. But with Sunday being the day of the vote, the Yesh Atid leader, Yair Lapid and coalition partner Naftali Bennett, must therefore submit their coalition paper work to the plenum by Friday.
This will give the pro-Netanyahu bloc, 48 hours to review the agreements and at the same time, convince right wing MK’s in the emerging government to oppose Sunday’s vote of confidence.
In the unlikely event this would happen, the Likud unanimously approved a motion on Tuesday to reserve three open spots on their party’s electoral list, in a further bid to entice members of Yamina and New Hope, to bolt the coalition in exchange for a spot on the slate.
Heads of the New Hope, Yesh Atid and Yamina met on Tuesday night at the house of New Hope party leader, Gideon Sa’ar in order to hammer out fine details on several issues before the final signing of the coalition accords.
Although we don’t know the exact details of the coalition agreements between Yesh Atid and the 7 other parties, it is widely believed that IDF service will be mandatory for most Yeshiva students, a reform egalitarian section will be set up at the Western Wall and major changes will take place on matters related to religion and state.
These will include reforms to the system of Jewish conversion, the provision of kashrut (kosher) authorities and the method for electing the Chief Rabbis. Yisrael Beytenu’s coalition agreement includes stipulations regarding civil marriage, the strictly Orthodox educational system and public transportation throughout Israel on Shabbat.
A United Torah Judaism MK commented that Mansour Abbas, who heads the Islamist Ra’am party, will be the most religious person in the new government.
The Bennett-Lapid-Sa’ar bloc plan to promote two dramatic laws in the early days of their new government according to Channel 12 News. First, preventing anyone who has served as prime minister for at least four years, (which of course applies only to Netanyahu) from running for the next Knesset.
Second, to introduce a law that makes it easier for a faction within a party to break off and form their own party. According to the law, Knesset members can only break away from their party, if they take at least a third of the MK’s. So as the Likud hold 30 seats, a minimum of 10 MK’s would be needed to break.
The new government plan to reduce this number considerably, in case Likud defectors are looking to join the Bennett led coalition, which will need to strengthen their narrow majority of one seat.
The Likud responded by saying “Bennett is crossing every red line in his insane chase for the Prime Minister’s seat at any price. “After Bennett deceived his voters and passed votes from right to left only to appoint himself Prime Minister with six seats, he is now bringing a law that does not exist in any democracy in the world, with the aim of disqualifying Prime Minister Netanyahu from running for Knesset”.
When Bennett first entered politics as an MK in 2013, Bennett’s goal was to eventually succeed Netanyahu as Prime Minister, but never intended to oust him. Bennett was always aware of how much the “Right” respected Netanyahu and that ousting him could result in a permanent scar on his political resume.
Bennett is a religious Zionist politician who staunchly opposes a Palestinian state and backs many right-wing policies. He is relatively liberal on religious issues and pragmatic on some others. He is seen as mostly independent of the rabbis he follows.