Several monumental bills that can make or break the coalition are on the
Knesset’s docket for its challenging winter session, beginning Monday
The winter session will officially begin with speeches by
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu and opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich of Labor.
expected to speak about diplomatic progress in months since the Knesset was last
in session, focusing on peace talks with the Palestinians and the Iranian
Some of the issues lawmakers are expected to bring to a
vote in the coming weeks include haredi enlistment, turning the requirement of a
referendum on peace talks into a Basic Law, electoral reform, regulating Beduin
land claims in the Negev and replacing the antimigration law overturned by the
High Court of Justice last month.
Coalition chairman Yariv Levin
(Likud-Beytenu) said Sunday that he expects the bills to pass in the next
“It is fundamental for the coalition’s stability that these bills
pass together within a short time,” Levin said.
Levin, who has one of the
toughest jobs in politics, will have to find ways for the coalition’s parties –
Likud, Yisrael Beytenu, Yesh Atid, Bayit Yehudi and Hatnua – to work together
and follow coalition discipline despite their divergent views on matters ranging
from peace talks to religion and state.
“Yesh Atid and Hatnua will have
to agree to vote for the Referendum Bill, Likud and the Bayit Yehudi will have
to move toward Yesh Atid’s position on haredi enlistment, and everyone in the
coalition will have to support more of Yisrael Beytenu’s electoral reform [for
the coalition to survive],” Levin explained.
“The parties have to find
ways to compromise on these issues, or we won’t be able to work together,” he
Levin pointed to the “deadlock” of the previous Knesset session,
in which none of the aforementioned major bills were passed because of friction
within the coalition.
“I hope we won’t see more of that now,” the
coalition chairman added.
As for tension between Yesh Atid and Bayit
Yehudi, who formed a partnership earlier this year, Levin said “their
differences were obvious from the beginning, but they protected each other from
[Netanyahu] throwing them out of the coalition and replacing them with Shas, UTJ
and even Labor. That mutual interest is still there, so the collaboration will
Each party may threaten to leave the coalition, Levin
explained, but parties will have little reason to actually do so, unless real
progress is made in peace talks leading to settlement evacuations or
construction freezes, which Bayit Yehudi and much of Likud would not be able to
As for haredi enlistment, the coalition chairman posited that
while Likud and Bayit Yehudi will have to give in to some of Yesh Atid’s
demands, Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s party will have to stop turning the bill
into a way to defeat the ultra-Orthodox parties.
“Yesh Atid need this
clash because they want to be seen as fighting for something, but it’s not good
for Israel as a whole or even for solving this issue,” Levin stated. “We need
more good will in the process.”
Levin committed to trying to find a way
for Yesh Atid to “achieve something and pass a good law” while “implementing the
things that are important to the haredim.”
Despite the challenges ahead,
Levin maintained an optimistic outlook, saying “there will be obstacles, but we
will manage to get past them and finish the session as we started.”