Newly sworn-in opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich has repeated several times in
the past few weeks that she is going to lead a “fighting
“We’re your opposition. Today we open the national
argument, and it will be sharp and deep,” she said in the plenum
This wasn’t just political bluster from a new opposition
leader. The coalition will face a more formidable, experienced and united
opposition than they’ve seen in years – and its first challenge will already
arrive on Tuesday, in the form of a filibuster on the government’s bill to
extend the due date for a budget from 45 to 120 days.
The last opposition
was led by Kadima for most of the 18th Knesset and included the right-wing
National Union, joint Arab-Israeli socialist party Hadash and Arab parties
UAL-Ta’al and Balad. A shrunken Labor joined later. The five or six parties
rarely succeeded in working together to fight the coalition.
Now, as MK
Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) pointed out on Twitter recently, the coalition and
opposition are each united around at least one issue: the economy. The coalition
parties are all capitalist, the opposition is entirely social-democratic or to
the left of that (except for a newly tiny Kadima).
Plus, this opposition
is angry. It’s ready to fight.
UTJ MKs are seething over being left out
of the coalition.
They interrupted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s
speeches Monday with cries of “Jews do not expel Jews” and walked out of the
plenum when Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett’s name was
Yacimovich pointed out that all of the coalition’s parties are
led by wealthy people, most of whom are from well-known families, who never had
to struggle to make a living. She then took her accusations one step further,
listing Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri’s earnings – NIS 2.3 million
On top of the unity and the anger, the opposition has the
advantage of being made up mostly of veterans who are experts at the first topic
at hand for the new government – the budget.
UTJ MKs Moshe Gafni and
Ya’acov Litzman, both former Knesset Finance Committee chairmen, are known for
their intelligence and sharp wit, and for their extensive familiarity with the
Yacimovich has been a member of the Finance Committee for years
and has dealt with countless budgetary maneuvers, and new Labor MK Michal Biran
was her parliamentary assistant throughout many of them. Plus, MK Avishay
Braverman, a professor of economics, is not lacking in knowledge or things to
say on the topic.
Shas is no slacker when it comes to the budget,
Coalition lawmakers will have to keep their eyes on MK David
Azoulay, for example.
It’s not yet clear who the coalition will send to
the Finance Committee, but its options are slim, and few of its available
members seem ready for this fight.
All of Yesh Atid’s MKs are new, which
means they have no experience with the budget.
Bayit Yehudi’s Finance
Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky was an MK for over a decade, with plenty of
experience in that area, but others in his party who are available to join the
panel are freshman legislators.
Only seven out of 31 Likud Beytenu MKs do
not have a position other than legislator – meaning minister, deputy minister or
Of those, two are new (Moshe Feiglin, Shimon Ohayon).
Expect Reuven Rivlin, ex-Knesset speaker and a former Finance Committee member,
to take a seat on the panel.
The coalition intended to request an
extension for passing the budget. According to the current law, it must be
passed in all three legislative readings by May 2. The government wanted to
extend that to July 16.
The opposition would not just sit by quietly and
allow that to happen.
A Labor spokeswoman said the opposition is willing
to filibuster the extension “until [US President Barack] Obama arrives and until
the eve of Pessah” and even after, to make life difficult for the
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid decided not to bring a twoyear
budget to a vote on Tuesday. Due to thethreat of a filibuster, the government
also agreed on Monday night to have a shorter extension.
sees this as a preliminary victory but is still prepared for a
“You know what [former prime minister] Menachem Begin used to say?
That the Left hates capitalists, but loves capital,” Likud Deputy Minister Ophir
Akunis told reporters at a faction meeting Monday afternoon.
opposition is ready to rumble over capital.
Is the coalition?