Bennett Threatens to Undermine Coalition Stability Over Peace Talks

Economy Minister says if referendum law for any peace deal with Palestinians is not immediately brought to a Knesset vote his party will vote against the budget - a move that may topple the government.

Economy Minister and Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett threatened on Monday morning to dismantle the coalition if a referendum law for any peace deal with the Palestinians is not immediately brought to a Knesset vote.

Sources close to Bennett said that he intends to announce during a party meeting on Monday afternoon that if law is not immediately brought to a vote, Habayit Hayehudi will vote against the state budget. The implications of such a move would be a coalition crisis that may bring about its collapse.

Bennett conveyed a similar message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, through coalition chairman MK Yariv Levin. Bennett said he wanted the preliminary reading of the bill to take place immediately, among other reasons because of the renewal of talks with the Palestinians. “If it was urgent to vote on the universal draft bill or the governance bill, the referendum bill can also be moved ahead quickly,” Bennett told Levin.

Speaking at Sunday’s cabinet meeting about the resumption of talks with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said that if a peace agreement was attained it would be presented for a referendum.

"I think it’s essential. I don’t think that decisions like this can be made, if an agreement is indeed attained, through some coalition move, but rather it should be presented to the people to decide,” he said.