Meretz threatens coalition over controversial bill

The citizenship law continues to cause controversy in the Knesset as MKs fight over its reimplementation.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Transport Minister Merav Michaeli, and Yamina MK Idit Silman ahead of the Citizenship Law vote, July 6, 2021 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Transport Minister Merav Michaeli, and Yamina MK Idit Silman ahead of the Citizenship Law vote, July 6, 2021
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

The coalition leadership decided on Thursday to let MKs vote their conscience on the controversial citizenship bills that would tighten immigration controls and make it harder for Palestinians who marry Israeli Arabs to receive citizenship.

There are three versions of the bill, sponsored by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Religious Zionist Party MK Simcha Rothman and Likud MK Avi Dichter, which will all be brought to a vote next week. The coalition has failed at passing all of them until now due to internal dissent and the opposition’s refusal to pass any bill sponsored by the coalition.

The new strategy of not enforcing a vote by the coalition is intended to enable at least one version of the bill to pass into law, as the High Court of Justice requires. But Meretz, which opposes all three versions of the bill, vowed to take revenge against the coalition.

“We oppose this cruel bill,” Meretz minister Tamar Zandberg told the Knesset Channel. “Allowing freedom of voting is a nice way of saying ‘undermining the coalition.’ It’s unacceptable to us. The coalition cannot work this way. In a coalition of 61, there is a lot we can do. There will be steps taken.”

After the bill fell in July due to the last-minute defection of rebel MK Amichai Chikli, Shaked continued preventing Palestinian family reunification. However, the High Court ruled last month that she cannot act as if the bill passed.

AFTER THE right-wing parties of the opposition voted against it, members of the Joint List celebrate the defeat of the citizenship law in the Knesset this week. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)AFTER THE right-wing parties of the opposition voted against it, members of the Joint List celebrate the defeat of the citizenship law in the Knesset this week. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Shaked then tried passing Rothman's bill and succeeded in getting it through the ministerial committee on legislation. But Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid appealed the bill and prevented it from moving forward until now.