Israel's gov't can last till next Passover, if we do it right - Lapid

"The current political crisis is not easy, but it can be managed," Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said.

Head of the Yesh Atid party and Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid, holds a press conference in Tel Aviv on April 14, 2022. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
Head of the Yesh Atid party and Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid, holds a press conference in Tel Aviv on April 14, 2022.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

This government will be here next Passover as long as the coalition crisis is managed correctly, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told reporters on Thursday as he explained that it was possible to continue to operate without a Knesset majority.

“The current political crisis is not easy, but it can be managed. If we work correctly, this government will be here next Passover and the one after that. It will not be simple, but we will make it happen.

“This is an excellent government, and every effort will be made to ensure that it continues,” Lapid said.

He spoke more than a week after MK Idit Silman (Yamina), resigned from the coalition that she chairs. The move dropped the coalition from a narrow majority of 61-seats to 60, out of a 120-member parliament.

“There were governments in Israel with far fewer than 60 seats that did great things,” Lapid said.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Israeli Presdint Reuven Rivlin and Israeli Ministers pose for a group photo of the newly sworn in Israeli government, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Israeli Presdint Reuven Rivlin and Israeli Ministers pose for a group photo of the newly sworn in Israeli government, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Lapid told reporters that the government could remain stable at 60, particularly since the right-wing block headed by Likud party leader and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu only had 54 seats.

“All that has happened is that the opposition has gone up from 53 to 54 [seats], that is it. We have 60 and they have, instead of 53, 54.”

He counted 52 seats for the combination of the parties of Likud, Religious Zionist Party, Shas and United Torah Judaism. To arrive at a total of 54, he also included Silman in that bloc as well as MK Amichai Chikli (Yamina) who had never been counted as part of the coalition from the start.

Yamina has seven Knesset seats, which includes Prime Minister Naftali Bennett but not Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.

The Likud and the Religious Zionist Party are pressuring the other four parliamentarians – Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana, Shirly Pinto Kadosh,  Yomtob Kalfon  and Abir Kara – as well as Shaked to resign from the coalition.

In a controversial move, RZP party head MK Bezalel Smotrich has called for those MKs to be banned from attending synagogue.

At the same time, Joint List Party head Ayman Odeh ignited a political storm this week when he called on Israeli Arabs to resign from the security forces in the West Bank and Jerusalem, including primarily the Border Police.

Head of the Yesh Atid party and Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid, holds a press conference in Tel Aviv on April 14, 2022. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)Head of the Yesh Atid party and Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid, holds a press conference in Tel Aviv on April 14, 2022. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

The statement made it highly unlikely that the Joint List could be incorporated into the government.

Lapid accused both Smotrich and Odeh of having formed a behind-the-scenes partnership to bring down the government.

“This government is the only answer to the unholy, dangerous alliance between Bezalel Smotrich and Ayman Odeh. Two people working together in the Knesset in close cooperation [against] the government and the state,” he said.

“Smotrich thinks he is God’s emissary and can decide which Jew deserves to enter the synagogue on Shabbat or on a holiday. Ayman attacks Arab policemen only when they are fighting against violence and terrorism,” he added.

Lapid told reporters that he believed that when relevant, it was possible to rely on the Joint List from the opposition to pass legislation.

“The Joint List won’t be part of the government or the coalition,” Lapid said, adding, however, that “we will continue to work with it in the Knesset, just as everyone has for all these years.”

Past governments led by Netanyahu also did this, Lapid said.

“I won’t permit a situation where Netanyahu cooperates with them on a daily basis then informs us that it is forbidden. If he thinks that this will be successful then he doesn’t know me,” Lapid said.

“Yes we will work with the Joint List for votes [to advance legislation]; all the factions and all the government have done this,” he added.

Lapid said he believes that the government, which is made up of parties from the Left, Center, and Right, could find a way to make compromises with respect to issues that were important to the right-wing voters.

When asked, he noted, as he has in the past, his opposition to the authorization of a yeshiva on the West Bank Evyatar hilltop even though Bennett has already promised to take this step.

“If it were up to me, it [the yeshiva] will not be built, but not everything is up to me. We will discuss this, as we do all matters,” Lapid said.

He said that he was checking into the legal possibility of approving a one-year budget rather than a two year.

The government, he added, has enough support to pass a budget.