Free-agent season renews during Knesset recess

Instead of attempting to pass bills, MKs will make an effort to pass MKs from one side of the aisle to the other.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset plenum, February 7, 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset plenum, February 7, 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The Knesset began its two-month spring recess on Sunday, but the MKs have not stopped working.

Instead of attempting to pass bills, they will make an effort to pass MKs from one side of the aisle to the other.

The coalition has a narrow 61-59 MK majority, which has proven unworkable in recent months. Both sides want to change that reality before the Knesset reconvenes on May 9.

Neither the coalition nor the opposition ever stopped working on wooing MKs from each other. The more potential defectors see their own side in trouble, the more likely they are to jump ship.

“We are working on it,” Likud MK Yoav Kisch said Sunday. “This time, they are sounding different.”

Knesset member of Yamina party Nir Orbach arrives to the parliament for attending the swearing-in ceremony of the 24th Knesset in Jerusalem, April 6, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)Knesset member of Yamina party Nir Orbach arrives to the parliament for attending the swearing-in ceremony of the 24th Knesset in Jerusalem, April 6, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Any MK who defects from the coalition would be rewarded with a reserved slot in Likud or the Religious Zionist Party in the next election. Yamina MK Yomtob Kalfon has said he was offered a ministerial post and a two-term reserved slot in Likud.

But because Kalfon entered the Knesset via the Norwegian Law, a non-sitting Yamina minister can just quit their cabinet post, reclaim his or her seat and oust Kalfon from the Knesset.

Yamina MK Nir Orbach is considered a top prize because as head of the Knesset House Committee, he could facilitate the transfer of power to a Likud prime minister. He also could prevent his committee from taking punitive steps against him for leaving his faction.

In an effort to keep him sweet in Yamina, Orbach is expected to be promoted to settlements affairs minister before the Knesset recess ends. Kalfon could replace him as head of the House Committee, and Yamina Director-General Stella Weinstein would enter the Knesset in place of Orbach.

But Orbach could leave for the Likud instead.

“Every MK wants to guarantee himself a job in the next Knesset,” a Likud official involved in the wooing effort said.