Ministers to vote against annexation as Orbach decides coalition's fate

Yisrael Beytenu leader Liberman said at a cultural event in Beersheba on Saturday that he would talk to Orbach on Sunday in an effort to persuade him to enable the government to continue functioning.

 Pro-government rally in Tel Aviv June 18, 2022. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Pro-government rally in Tel Aviv June 18, 2022.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's ministers are expected to vote unanimously against applying Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank at Sunday's Ministerial Committee on Legislation, even though it could encourage wavering MK Nir Orbach to bring down the government.

Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich purposely decided to bring the bill to a vote Sunday, a day before the Knesset is set to vote on the Judea and Samaria emergency bill, which is composed of temporary injunctions applying Israeli law to Jews in the West Bank that would not be needed if Israel annexed the territories. 

"It's not connected to Orbach," a Smotrich associate said Saturday night. "[Finance Minister Avigdor] Liberman and other politicians in the coalition said this is a right-wing government and it's the opposition's fault that the Judea and Samaria emergency bill has not passed. So it cannot be that a few days later they would vote against applying sovereignty, which would solve that problem."

Sources close to Smotrich declined to reveal if he spoke over the weekend with Orbach, whose decision is awaited on whether he will vote for the Likud's bill to dissolve the Knesset on Wednesday. The bill would not be brought to vote if it lacks the support of Orbach, whose vote would be needed to bring down the government and initiate an election that would be held as early as October 25. 

The Sovereignty Movement praised Smotrich for bringing the bill for the application of sovereignty, which it said is the essential and true answer to the question of the status of Judea and Samaria. The movement's co-chairwomen, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, called upon right-wing ministers to set aside personal and political considerations and back the bill. 

 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)

“The application of Israeli law over Judea and Samaria should have been done decades ago and then, the State of Israel would not have needed emergency regulations that perpetuate the historic stain that Israel experiences as long as it does not apply its sovereignty over the cradle of its homeland and the source of its life as the Jewish People,” Katsover and Matar said in a statement.

The ministerial committee will also vote on a bill sponsored by Yesh Atid MK Moshe Tur-Paz to change the voting body in the election for the Chief Rabbinate in order to take away the current haredi (ultra-Orthodox) majority. The bill was defeated in the Knesset plenum in March, due to rebellions in Yamina.

Another bill

Another bill set to come to a vote would require the state to compensate Israelis forced to wed abroad because they are not permitted to marry in Israel. The legislation is sponsored by Yisrael Beytenu MK Evgeny Sova.

Yisrael Beytenu leader Liberman said at a cultural event in Beersheba on Saturday that he would talk to Orbach on Sunday in an effort to persuade him to enable the government to continue functioning. He said it was not too late to prevent the government from being overthrown and that all party heads needed to restrain their rebels. 

"Going to an election now would be irresponsible, and I will do everything possible to prevent it," Liberman said. "An election would cause more rifts and mutual recriminations in the political realm. It would paralyze the entire governmental system. It is wrong to say that [hope for saving the government] is lost."