Narrow coalition outmaneuvers opposition in the Knesset

Government is safe for now as Kahlon says he won't topple coalition.

Bennett and Netanyahu shake hands in Knesset  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Bennett and Netanyahu shake hands in Knesset
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The coalition managed to maintain its majority in Knesset votes on Wednesday, despite its narrow margin over the opposition.
The opposition pulled all three of its bills to disperse the Knesset from the agenda, when it found the 61-seat coalition had pulled together a solid majority for the votes.
One vote in that majority was Likud MK Sharren Haskel, who had been hospitalized the night before. She left the hospital against her doctor’s orders, and voted with an IV attached to her arm.
“We took down the bill to dissolve the Knesset, but we will not take the subject off the public agenda,” opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said. “The prime minister knows that if we go to an election, he won’t win.”
The narrower coalition, without Yisrael Beytenu, got off to a rough start this week, losing a vote on Monday night and then pulling most other bills from the agenda. The coalition and opposition grounded their MKs, canceling all official trips abroad, so they can show up in full force.
Earlier on Wednesday, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon became the last coalition partner to back down from a call for an early election.
“I won’t lift a hand to bring down the government,” Kahlon told Kan Radio. “I think the coalition will fall on its own.”
“This situation is impossible,” he added. “Sixty-one in the first year [of a coalition] and 61 in the fourth year are two completely different things.”
Kahlon said his Kulanu Party is the “stabilizing factor” of the coalition, and said he does not fear an election, as he is certain his party will get more than the 10 seats it currently has. In recent polls Kulanu has gotten as little as five seats, but in a Channel 10 poll on Monday, it had seven.
The coalition went down to 61 seats after Avigdor Liberman resigned from the Defense Ministry last week and took his party with him. In the following days, Kahlon and other coalition party leaders expressed doubts over whether the government could survive and called for an election as soon as possible, but they have all backed down since then.
Dysfunction in the opposition helped the coalition survive Wednesday’s votes.
Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) publicly accused another MK from his party, Hilik Bar of violating the ban on Knesset members’ flights abroad. Bar, the head of the Israel-China Parliamentary Friendship Group, was in Beijing, a trip that he said was planned in advance and authorized by all the necessary parties. In addition, his absence was offset by that of Shas MK Yitzhak Vaknin.
Meretz chairwoman Tamar Zandberg could be heard arguing with Hasson in the plenum, and said that she is sick of him.