Opposition vows to never back government bill again

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu told The Jerusalem Post he prefers a new coalition in the current Knesset.

 Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu gestures at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 30, 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu gestures at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 30, 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government will no longer receive backing from opposition MKs for any legislation, the heads of the right-wing parties in the coalition promised at a Knesset press conference on Monday.

Their decision put in jeopardy a bill that was set to be voted on Monday night that would have extended emergency regulations for Judea and Samaria but was delayed by a week because the coalition had no majority without votes from the opposition or from Ra'am.

If the regulations are not extended by the end of June, the Civil Administration will expire and civilians caught speeding over the Green Line would have to be tried by military courts.

"It is wrong to back the coalition on anything, not even a good bill."

Arye Deri

"It is wrong to back the coalition on anything, not even a good bill," Shas leader Arye Deri said. "Not the emergency bill. Nothing. It is wrong to give the government artificial resuscitation. It's our obligation to topple it."

Asked by The Jerusalem Post whether he preferred forming a new coalition in the current Knesset if the government falls or going to elections, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said in this Knesset theoretically would be better, but elections – even if expensive – would be less costly than letting the current government continue.

"It's not nice to see a government drowning and struggling to not drown," Netanyahu said. "The government is in vertigo. They can't see far ahead, only up to their noses as they struggle to breathe as they drown." 

"The government is in vertigo. They can't see far ahead, only up to their noses as they struggle to breathe as they drown."

Benjamin Netanyahu
 Gideon Sa'ar. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Gideon Sa'ar. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar said the Judea and Samaria emergency bill must be passed and the opposition voting against it and preventing it from passing would be "irresponsible and not serious."

Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he was not overly concerned and that the coalition could overcome any threat to its future. 

Transportation crisis

Bennett met with the latest rebel MK, Michael Biton of Blue and White on Monday morning in an effort to fix a coalition crisis over Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli's transportation reform. Biton agreed to temporarily resume voting with the coalition and reconvene the Knesset Economics Committee that he heads for two weeks during negotiations.

Earlier, Michaeli responded to Biton's threat by saying the reform had been finalized and would not be changed. The reform makes each kilometer of public transportation in the country cost the same instead of favoring areas with close ties to politicians. 

"For many years, there have been back-room deals in the State of Israel," Michaeli said. "My predecessors in office gave discounted rates to the haredim (ultra-Orthodox) and low prices to friends. Everyone knew it was unfair and wrong and very, very unequal and no one had the guts to touch it. So, I decided to put an end to it and together with the minister of finance the government approved an economic plan, which was passed unanimously, to reform the price of public transport."

Speaking at a meeting of her Labor faction, Michaeli noted that both Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who heads Biton's party voted for the reform.

"This reform is so essential that there are those who are taking advantage of its complexities to try to blackmail the coalition and disable the work of the Knesset, under the guise of doing it for the benefit of the periphery," she said.

Gantz responded by backing Biton and blaming Michaeli.

"We need the coalition to function and that means listening to everyone involved before making decisions," Gantz told his Blue and White faction. "That is what I do, and I expect all ministers to do that. Biton is fighting for residents in the North and South. I am glad he has entered a dialogue, and I hope solutions will be found to serve the citizens."

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said the reform was essential and not discriminatory.

"Where there's a will, there's a way," he said. "I hope logic will prevail, and we will overcome this crisis."