Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government hit one year in office on Monday as its future remained in doubt and he pleaded for it to continue.
“I think anyone honest with himself would admit that this is one of the best governments the state has had, but it relies on one of the toughest coalitions the Knesset has known,” Bennett told his ministers at Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “This government that took the state from paralysis to growth, from weakness to deterrence and from chaos to normalcy cannot be stopped. We have to keep fighting for the Israeli public.”
"This government that took the state from paralysis to growth, from weakness to deterrence and from chaos to normalcy cannot be stopped. We have to keep fighting for the Israeli public."Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid added his own praise for the government and then warned the coalition rebels not to bring it down.
“Whoever acts irresponsibly now, needs to know that the Israeli public will take revenge,” he said.
Labor leader Merav Michaeli said her party was absolutely committed to the continued existence of the coalition.
“From here, I call on the other members of the coalition: Do not be tempted by lies and delusions; do not put Netanyahu and his soldiers back in power,” she said.
In an effort to keep his coalition together, Bennett met Sunday with wavering Yamina MK Nir Orbach. Both sides said after the meeting that “there is nothing new to report.”
When they met Thursday night, Orbach urged Bennett to shift his government rightward and threatened to accept an offer from Likud of a reserved slot in the next election if he would bring the government down. Bennett asked Orbach for more time to resolve the coalition’s multiple crises.
Foreshadowing of Ra'am resignation
In a good sign for Bennett, the next candidate to enter the Knesset in Ra’am (United Arab List), Ala Aladeen Jabareen, resigned from the list on Sunday, in a sign that rebel Ra’am MK Mazen Ghanaim will leave soon, too.
Ghanaim has been pressured to resign from the Knesset since his vote against the West Bank emergency bill last Monday.
But Jabareen has extreme views and did not want to be loyal to the Israeli government. He praised Hamas’s rocket fire against Israeli civilians last year.
If Ghanaim quits after Jabareen’s resignation takes effect Wednesday evening, he will now be replaced in the Knesset by the deputy mayor of Rahat, Ata Abu Madiam, who will give the party an MK from the South, which it has not had since the death of MK Sa’id al-Harumi last year.
Abu Madiam criticized the West Bank emergency bill on Twitter, but said in a radio interview, “If I became an MK, I would vote for the faction’s decisions. I will not rebel.”
The West Bank emergency bill passed unanimously in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday afternoon. It will not be brought to another vote in the Knesset until next week at the earliest.
Rebel MKs keep coalition on their toes
Rebel Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi took credit for Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s decision to not bring the bill to a vote in the Knesset this week.
“He understood that I strongly oppose the bill on principle and I am not ready to compromise,” she wrote on Twitter.
Another potential rebellion continued Sunday, when MK Michael Biton of his Blue and White Party said he would carry out his threat to boycott votes to protest Michaeli’s public transportation reform plan.
Biton had given the coalition two weeks to change the plan, which he believes would harm Israelis living in the periphery. However, he will still vote with the coalition on no-confidence votes and the West Bank emergency bill.
Meanwhile, Likud MK David Amsalem upset people when he said in a radio interview that his party would come back to power and “break the bones of the Left.” De facto coalition chairman Boaz Toporovsky (Yesh Atid) responded that Amsalem “set a new record for rotten words coming out of one mouth.”
A bill sponsored by Likud MK May Golan that would have canceled the Judicial Selection Committee and had judges in Israel approved by the cabinet and the Knesset was voted down in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday.
Golan slammed current and former justice ministers Sa’ar and Ayelet Shaked for voting against her bill.
“The dangerous judicial activism must be stopped,” she said.