Netanyahu's Falashmura Concession Could Weaken Coalition, Likud Officials Warn

Late last week, Netanyahu acceded to the demand by David Amsalem and Avraham Nagosa that the remaining 1,300 Falashmura be brought to Israel.

Moshik Brin

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s capitulation to two Likud Knesset members over bringing Falashmura from Ethiopia to Israel could seriously weaken the already-fragile coalition, senior Likud figures said over the weekend.

Late last week, Netanyahu acceded to the demand by David Amsalem and Avraham Nagosa that the remaining 1,300 Falashmura be brought to Israel.

“Problematic MKs see how Amsalem coerced Netanyahu and might learn the method from him,” said one senior Likud official. “There is no reason we won’t see an intifada of Likud or Habayit Hayehudi MKs who won’t agree to vote with the coalition until their demands are met.”

Amsalem and Nagosa did not vote with the coalition for a month, in protest at Netanyahu’s decision not to bring the remaining Falashmura to Israel. As a result, the government, which has a majority of only 61 members to the opposition’s 59, was unable to muster a majority to pass several laws.

“The greatest concern is that the two will not vote for the budget in another six months, which would result in the dissolution of the Knesset and new elections. But the main problem in the immediate future is that significant reforms will not be passed without a solid majority of 61,” sources in Likud said.

Among the bills that the coalition preferred not to bring to a vote, was one restricting contributions to organizations conducting political campaigns.

“There are quite a few MKs who might raise the banner of revolt,” a source in the coalition said. “We’ve seen the rebellions by MKs Oren Hazan and Bezalel Smotrich. The protest might also come from MKs with values who see that bills that are important to them are not progressing,” the source said.

However, sources close to the prime minister said they believed that the MKs would fear such moves in the future because none of them want new elections. “I don’t think this is capitulation,” a source close to Netanyahu said. If others seek to emulate Amsalem and Nagosa, “they will find they have brought about new elections by their own actions and I hope they won’t do it,” he added.