Israeli Lawmakers to Vote on New Bennett-Lapid Government on Sunday

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Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett walk together in the Knesset in 2013
Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett walk together in the Knesset in 2013Credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters

Coalition leaders to discuss PM term limit

Coalition party leaders will meet on Wednesday to discuss legislation that would set a limit for the prime minister's term – a step which could apply to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While all parties agree on the need for some limitation, they are undecided on how to implement it.

Yamina objects to a proposed law that would require a four-year cooling off period for a prime minister who has served eight consecutive years. If passed, such a law would prevent Netanyahu to run again in case the new government falls and the Knesset disperses.

Michael Hauser Tov

Coalition leaders mull PM term limit legislation

The negotiation teams of the parties making up the pending coalition continued to debate legislation that would set term limits for the prime minister, which could presumably apply to Benjamin Netanyahu. All the parties agree that there should be some sort of term limit, but there are disagreements regarding the details.

A cooling-off bill that was raised Monday by Zeev Elkin and the New Hope party which would ban someone who’d served as prime minister during the last eight years from being elected to the Knesset was dropped. The bill would have meant that if the new government would fall and the Knesset dissolves, Netanyahu would not be permitted to run in the next election, and thus would have no incentive to try to bring down the new government.

Noa Shpigel

Gideon Sa'ar to be assigned security detail Wednesday

New Hope Chairman Gideon Sa'ar will be assigned a security detail from Wednesday, the Knesset Guard decided Tuesday, as incitement continues to spike in the run-up to Sunday's confidence vote.

Last week, both the Knesset Guard and the Shin Bet have assigned and beefed up security details to other lawmakers, including Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Yamina head Naftali Bennett and his number 2 Ayelet Shaked.

On Sunday, only days after the head of the Shin Bet security service warned that Israel’s increasingly heated political rhetoric could boil over into physical violence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Likud members to "lay into" right-wing politicians who "joined the left." The premier decried what he described as election fraud on an unprecedented scale on Sunday, dubbing the establishment of a government with a slim Knesset majority as an attack on Israeli democracy itself.

Also on Sunday, Likud lawmaker and Netanyahu political ally May Golan compared Bennett and Saar to terrorists on a suicide mission during a televised interview on Sunday. Asked to reconsider her language, Golan declared "I won’t recant. They decided to die with the Philistines," in an allusion to the Biblical Samson, who killed himself in the process of slaying his enemies.

Michael Hauser Tov

Coalition leaders give undecided Elkin extra cabinet portfolio

Zeev Elkin, a lawmaker from Gideon Sa'ar's New Hope party, has agreed to take on the Knesset-cabinet liaison protfolio in the propsed Bennett-Lapid government, in addition to his nomination as housing minister, coalition leaders said in a statement.

Reports on Israeli media said Elkin was uncertain he would back the proposed government in a confidence vote slated for Sunday, but coalition leaders Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, in a joint statement, called them "ridiculous spins."

They did, however, also said they've agreed with Elkin on his nomination during a four-way meeting at Sa'ar's home.

"This is a young government, and we need Elkin's vast experience and wisdom to face the major challenges ahead, and first and foremost passing a budget," they said.

Elkin presented several conditions for his support for the proposed government, mostly relating to settlement expansion and opposition to any moves toward renewed negotiations with the Palestinians.

Ahead of the meeting, Elkin said in a tweet he was "committed to New Hope... and the agreements we've reached."

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.

Haredi lawmakers brand Bennett as 'wicked'

Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett, set to become Israel’s first Orthodox prime minister after a confidence vote next week, was accused Tuesday by ultra-Orthodox lawmakers – who back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and aren't part of the proposed new government – of being a brazen sinner who should "remove his kippah."

Bennett pushed back against the ultra-orthodox lawmakers’ attacks, calling them “expressions that do not bring them honor and reflect a loss of temper.”

Anshel Pfeffer

Netanyahu's rivals in no rush to dethrone him | Analysis

The date for the confidence vote that will allow the Bennett-Lapid coalition to swear in their new government has finally been set for Sunday. That’s 11 days after Yair Lapid notified both President Reuven Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin that the new government was ready and waiting with a confirmed majority. It’s a week too much.

Since by law the Knesset is allowed 24 hours to review the coalition agreements before the confidence vote and the Knesset never convenes on a Friday or Shabbat, the vote should have been scheduled for last Sunday. The election was two and a half months ago, on March 23, and Israel has been without a functioning government for long enough.

We know why Levin delayed his announcement and then scheduled the confidence vote for almost the last day he could. He wants to give his boss, Benjamin Netanyahu, more time to try to pressure the wavering lawmakers in the new coalition into voting against it. Levin could have pushed the vote back by another day, until Monday, but by scheduling it for Sunday, he made sure that the agreements would be presented to the Knesset by Thursday – creating, he hopes, a tense weekend for the prospective coalition members.

Michael Hauser Tov

Likud approves proposal meant to lure in right-wing lawmakers

The Likud central committee unanimously approved a proposal to reserve three seats on the party's slate for the next general election for candidates who aren't members of Likud, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party.

The move is meant to lure in right-wing lawmakers from other parties who are part of the proposed Bennett-Lapid coalition, ahead of a confidence vote slated for Sunday.

The Bennett-Lapid coalition has only a slim Knesset majority, and Likud could potentially make it fail its first confidence vote by persuading even just a handful of its members to vote against it.

Michael Hauser Tov

Undecided Yamina MK Nir Orbach announces he will support the new government

Yamina lawmaker Nir Orbach on Tuesday told his party head, Naftali Bennett, that he intends to vote in support of the new government on  Sunday's confidence vote in the Knesset.

In recent days, Orbach has debated whether he should back the proposed Bennett-Lapid government.

Orbach was also the target of immense public pressure on the political right to vote against forming the anti-Netanyahu government.

Yossi Verter

Netanyahu loyalists know he has led them into a political deathtrap

LISTEN: In his final days, Bibi unleashes his most toxic minions

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It seems that the penny dropped only on Sunday afternoon. The formal announcement by Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin that a new government would be sworn in within a week brought home the message. Lawmakers and ministers from Likud and the ultra-Orthodox parties finally got it that cleaving to Benjamin Netanyahu had led them into a political deathtrap.

Just like he dragged them into four consecutive elections, he’s now dragging them into the opposition, who knows for how long. He is their collective punishment even though they don’t think they sinned.

Read Yossi Verter's full analysis here

Knesset to vote on Bennett-Lapid government on Sunday

Knesset lawmakers will cast a vote of confidence on the Bennett-Lapid government on Sunday, followed by a swearing-in ceremony for the new government, Knesset Speaker Yariv Lavin announced.

These proceedings will follow a vote for the speaker of the 24th Knesset.

The Lapid-Bennett camp is required to release details of the coalition agreements on Friday, 24 hours before the ceremony, giving their opponents more time to apply pressure on lawmakers to vote against the government.

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Bennett denies plans for law designed to stop Netanyahu from bringing down government

Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett denied on Monday that he and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid were considering pursuing a law preventing someone who served as prime minister in the past eight years from being elected to the next Knesset. Because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already been elected to the current Knesset, the ramifications of such a law for him would be that if he brings down a Bennett-Lapid government sometime in the next four years, he will not be eligible to run in the following election.

"There is no, there never was, and there will be no agreement about preventing [someone from] running for the Knesset," Bennett said. "This was a proposal that was raised, was not agreed upon, and will not be happening. The only thing that will happen and that was agreed is limiting the enture of a prime minister to eight years or two terms."

Netanyahu's Likud party seized on media reports that Bennett and Lapid were considering such a move in order to accuse Bennett of anti-democratic tendencies. "Bennett is turning Israel into a benighted dictatorship – North Korea meets Iran," a Likud statement read. "Prime Minister Netanyahu fights Iran, and Bennett brings a law from Iran. This law will remove Israel from the society of enlightened democracies and put it among the darkest tyrannical regimes … Bennett is crossing every red line in his insane chase for the prime minister's seat at any price."

Jonathan Lis

Lapid-Bennett coalition deal gives both veto power

Clauses from the coalition agreements between the parties in the Bennett-Lapid government revealed on Monday that Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett will not necessarily be committed to agreements signed by Yesh Atid Leader Yair Lapid with other parties in the coalition.

For example, Yamina would not necessarily be obligated to a clause in the coalition agreement with Meretz that promises advancement on legislation advancing the standing of the LGBTQ community, or to repeal the Kaminetz Law as the United Arab List's agreement stipulates. Both Bennett and Lapid, who will serve as alternate prime minister, will have veto power over any government decision.

The coalition agreements also preserve the Norwegian Law, allowing up to 26 ministers and deputies to step down from their role as Knesset members and allow other members of their parties to fill those seats. Parties with six seats will allow up to three lawmakers to resign. Parties with seven to nine seats will be able to have four members resign their Knesset seats, and parties with over ten can allow up to five members to resign. The security cabinet will include 12 members, with parity between the two blocs. The prime minister will determine the cabinet's agenda.

The coalition agreement between Yamina and Yesh Atid will act as an umbrella agreement, which will obligate all the parties and will be added as an addendum to each of their individual coalition agreements. Clauses can be added to coalition agreements with the agreement of both Bennett and Lapid. All party leaders read and approved the agreements with all other party  members.

The far-right Religious Zionism party quickly condemned the agreements after their contents emerged. "Naftali Bennett has completely lost his senses morally," a party statement read, which accused the Yamina chairman of aiming to become "an illegitimate prime minister with six seats." The party claimed that the agreements "expose the liquidation sale of the Negev and the Galilee, damage to the state's Jewish character and a severe perversion of democracy and the will of the people." It was not too late, however, Religious Zionism argued, calling for "one hero with a moral compass and conscience to develop a moral spine and announce his opposition, and then instead of the establishment of a government by the bizarre left and terror supporters, a national government will be formed."

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