Bennett government receives lifeline for another week

The Likud would need Orbach’s vote to dissolve the Knesset and initiate an election that would be held as early as October 25.

 Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid seen at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 19, 2022.  (photo credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY/FLASH90)
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid seen at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 19, 2022.
(photo credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s governing coalition will not be brought down this week, despite mounting political pressure, officials in the coalition and opposition said Sunday.

The coalition intended to bring the controversial Judea and Samaria emergency bill to a vote on Monday. The Likud hoped to bring a proposal to dissolve the Knesset to a vote on Wednesday.

But barring last-minute changes, both bills will be postponed to next week, just ahead of the June 30 deadline to pass the emergency bill or dissolve the Knesset and automatically receive an extension.

“As of now, it doesn’t look like the government will fall this week.”

A source close to Bennett

“As of now, it doesn’t look like the government will fall this week,” a source close to Bennett said Sunday night.

Wavering Yamina MK Nir Orbach has not said anything publicly since last Monday. But he has spoken to faction heads from the coalition and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s emissaries, who have tried to push him in opposite directions.

 Yamina MK Nir Orbach seen leaving the PM's office in Jerusalem, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, June 12, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Yamina MK Nir Orbach seen leaving the PM's office in Jerusalem, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, June 12, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked met with Orbach on Sunday and did not speak to the press afterward. But even though she is not an MK, her decision to leave for Morocco on a five-day trip was seen as an indication that Orbach would not give the Likud the green light to topple the government this week.

Orbach also met Sunday with United Torah Judaism leader Moshe Gafni and told him he preferred forming a new government in the current Knesset over going to elections. He did not commit to voting to dissolve the Knesset.

The Likud would need Orbach’s vote to dissolve the Knesset and initiate an election that would be held as early as October 25.

Bennett wrote an optimistic message to his supporters on Twitter late Saturday night, following a demonstration in favor of his government in Tel Aviv.

“We are not breaking,” he wrote. “We are not conceding our country.”

Netanyahu mocked the demonstration and retweeted a Channel 14 report that most of the demonstrators were left-wingers.

Smotrich and Biton

Blue and White rebel MK Michael Biton said he would decide by Monday afternoon whether to continue boycotting voting in the Knesset following a positive meeting on Sunday with Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli (Labor). Efforts were made on Sunday to end the rebellion of Biton, who is protesting the government’s public transportation reform plan.

Biton’s votes could be needed to block Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich’s bill on West Bank annexation that was postponed for a month by ministers in the ministerial committee on legislation on Sunday.

Smotrich is likely to bring the bill to a vote in the Knesset on Wednesday in an effort to embarrass Bennett and his right-wing ministers, who will be compelled to vote against it even though they support applying sovereignty to Judea and Samaria.

A bill changing the voting body for choosing the chief rabbi and making it less haredi (ultra-Orthodox) was approved by the ministerial committee.