Bennett’s coalition survives no-confidence votes

Majority of Knesset members not interested in new elections so soon.

By Gil Tanenbaum, TPS

Israel’s coalition government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett survived two different no-confidence motions in the Knesset on Monday. The votes were held on the first official day back in session after the Passover break ended.

There had been a great deal of speculation in recent days that the government would fall on the opening day of the Knesset summer session because of the defections made by members of Bennett’s own party, Yamina. And it was not clear if the Arab party Ra’am – which voted in favor of forming the government last June – would continue to support the coalition. But it did.

Foreign Minister and alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid tweeted his glee saying, “After all the spins and mind games we began with a victory!!!”

The motions were presented by opposition parties Likud, Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ).

The Likud motion failed by a vote of 61 – 52, giving the coalition the support of an absolute majority of the 120 members of the Knesset.

The motion presented by the 2 ultra-orthodox Shas and UTJ parties failed by a vote of 56 – 52.

There was also speculation that a majority could be found to dissolve the Knesset and call for new elections. Unlike a no-confidence vote, a majority does not need to also support an entirely new coalition list for such a vote to pass.

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However, there does not seem to be an interest among a majority of the Knesset’s members to move to new elections so soon.

Ra’am may be concerned about failing to pass the minimum vote threshold needed in order to return to the Knesset in a new election because of anger in the Arab sector over the party’s supporting a Jewish Zionist government.

Then there are individual members of the Knesset like Idit Silman, who until recently served as the coalition chair. Silman is an MK from Naftali Bennett’s own Yamina party who recently quit the coalition in a dispute over the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. Silman left the coalition when Israel’s health minister Nitzan Horowitz – he is from the left-wing secularist Meretz party – allowed the hospitals in Israel to serve food that is not kosher for Passover during the recent Passover holiday.

Under Israeli law, Silman could not run again for the Knesset with another party or hold any cabinet post unless she first resigns from the Knesset and at least six months pass before new elections are held. This would also be true of any individual MK who votes against his party in favor of bringing down the coalition, unless he can convince at least one third of its current MKs – and a minimum of three – to join him in forming a new party.