Attorney-General asked to probe Likud deal to topple Bennett

Likud has reportedly promised MK Nir Orbach (Yamina) a slot on the party’s list and a cabinet ministry if he would vote to dissolve the Knesset.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a weekly cabinet meeting, June 12, 2022 (photo credit: Yoav Dudkevitch/Pool)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a weekly cabinet meeting, June 12, 2022
(photo credit: Yoav Dudkevitch/Pool)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu both expressed confidence on Thursday that wavering Yamina MK Nir Orbach would take their side in the struggle over the future of Bennett’s government.

Bennett’s associates said they had faith that Orbach would let him remain prime minister. They denied a report that in conversations with confidants Bennett admitted that he failed when he selected the candidates of his Knesset list.

The Knesset is expected to vote on Wednesday on the Likud’s proposal to dissolve the Knesset. With Orbach’s support it could pass, and an election could be held as early as October 25.

“I have heard that Nir Orbach is also worried about the situation in the country,” Netanyahu said on Thursday at a ceremony for the victims of the Altalena ship. “[MKs Amichai] Chikli and Idit Silman already did the right thing. I am sure that Nir Orbach will also do the right thing. Nir, you were right to say the experiment failed. This failure endangers an entire country, endangers our future. At this decisive time, action must be taken.”

Two watchdog groups asked Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara to examine whether the Likud had made a legal agreement with Orbach.

 MK's Idit Silman and Nir Orbach arrive for a party meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on May 16, 2022 (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) MK's Idit Silman and Nir Orbach arrive for a party meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on May 16, 2022 (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

A "stinking maneuver?"

“This is a gross case of trampling the instructions of the law.”

Movement for Quality Government lawyer

Channel 12 reported on Wednesday night that the Likud had promised Orbach a reserved slot on the party’s list and a cabinet ministry in a Likud-led government, if he would vote to dissolve the Knesset and bring down Bennett.

The Movement for Quality Government wrote Baharav-Miara on Thursday that the law forbids such agreements until 90 days before a declared election. The group wrote to the attorney-general saying the Likud had committed a crime by reaching agreements with both Orbach and former coalition chairwoman Idit Silman.

“This is a gross case of trampling the instructions of the law,” the movement’s lawyers wrote. “It requires an immediate criminal investigation of everyone involved in the matter.”

The law was changed in 1991 following the infamous “stinking maneuver,” in which foreign minister Shimon Peres tried to overthrow prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and their national unity government.

The left-wing group Darkenu asked Baharav-Miara to clarify that such agreements are illegal even if made in an unofficial handshake deal, and to probe Netanyahu.

“Corruption is unacceptable, and law enforcement officials must ensure that a man indicted in three cases does not continue to corrupt the public sphere with illegal offers to members of Knesset to defect from the coalition for a future job,” Darkenu director-general Yair Yaya Fink wrote to the attorney-general.