Bennett's coalition aims for quiet week amid threats to its survival

Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar to 'Post': We will bring the emergency bill "when the time is right"

 JUSTICE MINISTER Gideon Sa’ar confers with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset. Sa’ar decided to defer Israel’s joining the Istanbul Convention. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
JUSTICE MINISTER Gideon Sa’ar confers with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset. Sa’ar decided to defer Israel’s joining the Istanbul Convention.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's fragile government postponed controversial legislation that could have been brought to a vote this week, in an attempt to stabilize the coalition and survive another week.

Quelling another potential rebellion, Bennett's office persuaded Meretz MK Gaby Lasky to delay her "anti-Bibi bill" that was set to be voted on Sunday by the ministerial committee on legislation. The bill would prevent a government from being formed by an MK under indictment, including opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.  

West Bank emergency bill delayed, pressure mounts on rebel MKs

The controversial West Bank emergency bill will not be brought to the Knesset this week, because it still lacks a majority after it was defeated last week. But it will be voted on again in Sunday's cabinet meeting, where it already passed by a wide margin. 

"I never said it would be brought this week to the Knesset," the bill's sponsor, Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar, told The Jerusalem Post. "I said it will be brought to the Knesset when the time is right."

[The West Bank emergency bill] will be brought to the Knesset when the time is right"

Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar
GIDEON SA'AR arrives at the Knesset ahead of the vote and swearing in of the 36th government, June 13, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)GIDEON SA'AR arrives at the Knesset ahead of the vote and swearing in of the 36th government, June 13, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

To obtain a majority for the bill, the coalition needs the two Knesset members who voted against it - Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi (Meretz) and Mazen Ghanaim (Ra'am - United Arab List) to resign from the Knesset and be replaced by more disciplined MKs. Their resignations could also help prevent wavering Yamina MK Nir Orbach from defecting.

Bennett will meet Orbach for the second time in three days on Sunday morning. When they met Thursday, Orbach agreed to the prime minister's request for more time to stabilize his coalition and to get the rebel MKs to quit. 

But over the weekend, both rebels hardened their positions against resigning. Ghanaim said he would not quit, even though Ra'am reportedly agreed to pay his Knesset salary for the next two years.

Rinawie Zoabi expressed frustration over the coalition canceling a vote on allocations for hospitals in Nazareth to protest her vote against the West Bank emergency bill. 

"I considered resigning before but now I definitely won't quit," she said. "This coalition crossed red lines."

She told Channel 12's Meet the Press program on Saturday night that "it is not my job to save the Left from Bibi." Protesters from Meretz demonstrated outside her home in Nof Hagalil on Saturday. 

 Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi is seen alongside Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in the Knesset in Jerusalem. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi is seen alongside Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in the Knesset in Jerusalem. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

After Rinawie Zoabi told KAN Radio on Friday that Meretz had only asked her to quit in the press and not personally, a spokesman for Horowitz responded: "That is a lie, a ridiculous, delusional claim. For weeks, Meretz people have been investing every effort to bring about her resignation from the Knesset, including countless conversations with her."

Horowitz told 103FM on Friday morning that "if she cannot vote according to the decisions of the coalition and the party, she should give up her post and allow us to move on."

"That is the right and fair thing to do," he said.

The Meretz MK said she would vote against the bill again if it was brought to another vote in the Knesset plenum.

"I absolutely would not vote for it under any circumstances. I would definitely topple the bill."

MK Rinawie Zoabi on the West Bank emergency bill

 Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi voting at the Knesset on June 6, 2022 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi voting at the Knesset on June 6, 2022 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Abbas doesn't rule out Netanyahu government

Ra'am leader Mansour Abbas said at a Shabbat cultural event in Baka al-Gharbiya on Saturday that he would not rule out joining a Netanyahu-led government.   

"We do not rule anyone out," he said. "We want [a] partnership. We want to be part of the coalition for the decade ahead."