Naftali Bennett's coalition is continuing to crumble

Silman denies extortion attempt on Orbach, who is mulling toppling Bennett • Coalition loses vote on minimum wage • Former IDF chief to enter politics

 Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 7, 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 7, 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's governing coalition continued to suffer blows on Wednesday, when it lost a vote in the Knesset and reports revealed that a close ally of Bennett for more than a decade is negotiating with Likud. 

Walla reported that Sderot mayor Alon Davidi has been negotiating between Yamina MK Nir Orbach and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu's party on receiving a reserved slot in return for bringing down the government.  

Orbach reportedly told Bennett following the failure to pass the West Bank emergency bill on Monday night that his government was finished. But Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked asked Orbach to wait with his announcement for a few days and leave in an organized manner.

A source close to Orbach who spoke to him on Wednesday said that while the MK was examining opportunities, the report was untrue. According to the coalition agreement, if Orbach would defect to the opposition, Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid would immediately take power as caretaker prime minister until a new government is formed after an election.

"Nir told me today he won't be the one to crash the coalition," the source close to Orbach said. "He is checking his options like other MKs are, but he doesn't want to give the premiership to Lapid."

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli voting at the Knesset on June 6, 2022 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli voting at the Knesset on June 6, 2022 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Government holding on

Shas leader Arye Deri raised speculation when he tweeted on Wednesday evening: "Write it down. The coalition will break up completely this week. Expect surprises very soon."  

Yamina officials still expressed confidence on Wednesday night that the government can remain together until the Knesset's next recess begins on July 27. 

"We will keep running out the clock," one Yamina official said. "The game of chicken on the Judea and Samaria bill will go to the brink, but we will pass it." 

Silman denies extortion attempt on Yamina colleague Orbach

In another dispute inside Yamina, former coalition chairwoman Idit Silman was reported to have threatened Orbach, who heads the Knesset House Committee, to release incriminating information about him if his committee begins proceedings to have her declared a defector from Yamina. 

"I will not shut my mouth," she reportedly told a confidante. "I intend to publish it if Nir declares me a defector. Nir does not know what I have. This will finish off Nir."

Silman denied the attempted extortion and said she is friends with Orbach.

In an attempt to prevent an additional rebellion, Bennett met on Wednesday with Knesset Economics Committee chairman Michael Biton, who is protesting a public transportation reform that passed in the cabinet. Biton said after the meeting that it went well and he is sure the matter will be resolved. 

 A Isreal Shekel note and a U.S. Dollar note are seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo. (credit: REUTERS/THOMAS WHITE/ILLUSTRATION) A Isreal Shekel note and a U.S. Dollar note are seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo. (credit: REUTERS/THOMAS WHITE/ILLUSTRATION)

40 shekel minimum wage bill passes first reading

Another economic reform over a proposed minimum wage hike led to a loss for Bennett's coalition in the Knesset. The plenum passed the preliminary reading of a bill sponsored by Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi that would guarantee a 40 shekel minimum wage in a 24 to four vote.

Labor and Meretz MKs walked out of the vote and Ra'am (United Arab List) voted in favor, allowing it to pass. Bennett cast one of the four votes against it.

"We are happy that we reached an agreement with the heads of the coalition to pass the bill while maintaining the unity of the coalition."

Labor spokesperson

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman called the bill "cheap populism" in an interview with N12. He warned Netanyahu and the opposition against preventing the West Bank emergency bill from passing into law.  

"If the opposition does not allow the passage of the Judea and Samaria regulations, it would be a betrayal of the settlement movement," he said. "Some 250,000 residents would not be able to vote. I would not be allowed to be a minister and [Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel] Smotrich would not be allowed to be an MK." 

Meretz rebel MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, who voted against the bill on Monday, said she would vote against it again if it is brought back to a vote next week. Meretz is mulling having her declared a defector. Lapid has cut ties with her and sources close to Lapid called her "ungrateful."  

THEN-CHIEF OF staff Gadi Eisenkot speaks at a conference in 2018. (credit: FLASH90)THEN-CHIEF OF staff Gadi Eisenkot speaks at a conference in 2018. (credit: FLASH90)

Another former IDF chief enters political race

Meanwhile, Channel 13 reported on Wednesday night that former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eizenkot is entering politics and will announce it when the government falls. He told confidants that he wants to have an impact on Israel via politics. He has received offers from Lapid and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to be their #2.