Six Yamina Lawmakers Said to Support New Coalition

Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett, who is slated to become prime minister, is expected to update other coalition leaders on Sunday. Yamina MK Nir Orbach is expected to vote for the coalition or resign from the Knesset

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Yamina lawmaker Ayelet Shaked outside Chairman Naftali Bennett's house in Ra'anana on Friday
Yamina lawmaker Ayelet Shaked outside Chairman Naftali Bennett's house in Ra'anana on FridayCredit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

All Yamina lawmakers except for Amichai Chikli will either vote in favor of the coalition or resign from the Knesset, Yamina sources said. Sources added that even Chikli will most likely support the coalition and remain a lawmaker.

This would give the parties in the nascent coalition well more than the 60 votes needed to be sworn in.

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Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett, who is slated to become prime minister, is expected to update the other coalition leaders when they meet on Sunday.

On Friday, Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin announced that he intended to inform the Knesset at its next session on Monday that Yair Lapid had succeeded in forming a collation. A vote to approve the coalition would then be held within a week from that date, meaning by Monday, June 14. Levin did not say when he intends to hold the vote, sources close to him said, and he may decide to do so earlier, perhaps as early as Wednesday.

In response, the leaders of the slated coalition decided not to move ahead with their plan to replace Levin with Yesh Atid lawmaker Mickey Levy. On Thursday morning Yesh Atid announced that it had asked the Knesset secretariat to hold a vote for Knesset speaker (Levin has the post temporarily as a holdover from the last Knesset). Due to a lack of coordination between Yesh Atid and Yamina, Yamina’s Nir Orbach, who had been wavering over whether to support the coalition, was surprised to discover that his signature was on the request to the secretariat, and he asked that it be removed.

Yamina lawmaker Nir Orbach outside Chairman Naftali Bennett's house in Ra'anana on FridayCredit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

Even so, the partners have enough votes to oust Levin since the Joint List decided to vote in favor of the move, although it is not a partner of the new coalition.

The so-called change bloc had feared that Levin would try to play for time beyond the accepted constitutional limit.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a Facebook post comparing the representatives of the right-wing parties to the biblical spies who spoke ill of the land of Canaan. “In the weekly Torah portion, the representatives of Israel spoke ill of the country and weakened the spirit of the people only out of concern for their personal roles,” he wrote. Alluding to internal opposition to the new government within Yamina, he added: “Two out of the group did not agree to lie: Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephuneh.”

Netanyahu continued the comparison, ending with the words: “Those who were elected by votes from the right must stand up and do the right thing: Establish a strong and good right-wing government to protect the Land of Israel, the citizens of Israel and the State of Israel.” In the biblical story, the 10 spies who spoke ill of the land were punished for rebelling and died of a plague. Only Joshua and Caleb remained alive.

Throughout last week Likud persisted in pressuring the Yamina lawmakers, including Ayelet Shaked and Orbach. Senior Likud figures called for protests in front of the lawmakers' homes. The protests were organized and included people being bussed in. Political figures said they believed that Likud was behind them, although the party denied it.

In an interview on Channel 12 News on Saturday, United Arab List Chairman Mansour Abbas sad he had discussed with Ahmad Tibi of the Ta’al party, now part of the Joint List alliance, the possibility of Joint List joining the coalition as well. Abbas said: “I did not receive an answer from him as to whether he would want to join the coalition. I think that he is undecided at the moment.” Abbas said it would be “the right decision” for Tibi’s party to join the coalition. Ta’al has two lawmakers, Tibi and Osama Saadi. Tibi said in response: “We will not join a Netanyahu government. Period.”

The Yamina and Yesh Atid negotiating teams are to meet Sunday to complete formulation of the coalition agreements, their platform and the regulations for the workings of the new government. The teams have been working on the wording, but there are still some loose ends. Sources in both parties have reported that there are no significant disputes, but there is still more work to be done.

Over the past few days Likud has called for the agreements to be made public, although according to the law, they only need to be made public 24-72 hours before the government is sworn in. Yesh Atid and Yamina have both stated that it is their intention to do so in that time frame.

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