Bennett Ally Says Won't Vote With Coalition Until West Bank Legislation Passes

The latest crisis threatening the stability of Israel's ruling coalition began last week when the government failed to pass legislation renewing regulations that apply Israeli law to West Bank settlers

Yamina Lawmaker Nir Orbach at the entrance to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's office, on Sunday.
Yamina Lawmaker Nir Orbach at the entrance to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's office, on Sunday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Yamina lawmaker Nir Orbach told Prime Minister Naftali Bennett Monday that he will not vote with the coalition until the government extends emergency regulations applying Israeli law to West Bank settlers, a week after it failed to pass the bill.

The announcement comes following several rounds of talks that Orbach and Bennett held during the last three days. The two have been in frequent contact since Orbach held a serious discussion with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party about joining his bloc and toppling the governing coalition – a move that might kick-start Israel's fifth election cycle in under three years.

"The current coalition is not fulfilling its goal," Orbach said in a statement, but added that he will not back a motion to dissolve the Knesset, at least over the coming week.

According to Orbach, another election cycle will harm the stability "that is needed to govern a country," adding that he "will strive for a government with a national spirit, as we vowed last year."

Following Orbach's statement, all government-sponsored bills were taken off the Knesset's agenda for Monday.

Speaking at the Knesset later on Monday, Bennett said: "This government is excellent, but it relies on a difficult coalition. We are fighting for this government – that's the truth."

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu used the meeting to criticize the government and argue Bennett was an incompetent leader.

Bennet asserted, "The choice is between chaos and stability. It must be said with integrity that even in the coalition, there are people who haven't yet realized the significance [of this government] – they fall in love with protests and votes and don't understand how important this moment is."

The prime minister called on dissenting lawmakers to cooperate with the government to stabilize the coalition: "We have a week or two to sort this out," apparently referring to the West Bank legislation Orbach wants passed.

In another discussion that Bennett and Orbach held last week, Orbach set Wednesday as his deadline for deciding whether he intends to stay in the coalition, according to sources.

This latest coalition crisis began on Monday when the coalition failed to pass legislation renewing emergency regulations applying Israeli law to West Bank settlers.

Sources close to Bennett said the prime minister promised to update Orbach on efforts to stabilize the coalition, so the Yamina lawmaker can assess his position.

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