The Knesset adopts the first ballot to disperse, and puts Israel on the path to elections

The coalition led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett cleared the first major obstacle on the way to ending the current government on Wednesday, by adopting the first of four votes needed to disperse the Knesset and force early elections.

Unable to agree on a resolution itself, the opposition and the coalition submitted several separate versions of the legislation – nine opposition bills and two coalition versions.

The coalition’s primary version passed with 106 votes in favor and one against, while the opposition bills all passed with more than 89 votes. Everyone will now go to the Knesset House Committee to decide which committee will prepare them for their next vote, the first reading.

The dissolution process requires four separate votes and two committee reviews, and is not expected to be completed on Wednesday. The Knesset is expected to complete the process next week, perhaps as early as Monday.

Despite a relatively mild hour-long debate on the bills, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy rejected attempts to applaud the review of the 11 preliminary readings to dissolve the Knesset.

“No, no, no, stop. It’s over, Levy said.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett talks with other MPs in the coalition ahead of a preliminary vote to dissolve the Knesset for new elections, June 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi / Flash90)

On Monday, Bennett and Secretary of State Yair Lapid surprised the nation by announcing their intention to voluntarily dissolve the Knesset and send Israel to its fifth election since 2019.

After months of political instability began with the loss of a one-seat majority in early April and exacerbated by security tensions, Bennett and Lapid said they reached their decision after attempts to restore order in the coalition were “exhausted”.

Following the expected dissolution, Lapid will take over the role of interim prime minister until a new government is sworn in, following the election.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at the Knesset in Jerusalem, 22 June 2022 (Olivier Fitoussi / Flash90)

On behalf of the government’s proliferation law, coalition whip Boaz Toporovsky of the Lapid Yesh Atid faction defended Bennett’s decision to pursue proliferation, saying it was in the “best interests of the state.”

“This is a sad day for democracy. We do it with a heavy heart, but wholeheartedly, because the benefit to the state has always been and will always be before any other benefit, “said Toporovosky, adding that this was true even when it was up against the” benefit of politics. “

Toporovsky also accused that even in this last dismantling phase, the opposition was reluctant to cooperate.

“The opposition continues to postpone the decision to go to the polls. It is an opposition that has fallen in love with blocking the control system, Toporovsky said.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett with MK Boaz Toporovsky (R) during a discussion in the Knesset, June 8, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

Meretz MK Mossi Raz said that the coalition had encountered “unique incitement” in the middle of an uphill battle.

“From day one, this government has faced unparalleled outrage. The opposition did not let go of its strategy of painting the government illegitimate … In the face of this incitement, threw three MKs on the right who could not stand their power. They were the ones who overthrew the government, and we will move on, he told the plenary.

“After the election, we will have another government in this model, but improved; with an Arab-Jewish partnership, without giving in to threats from the right, Raz said.

Likud faction leader Yariv Levin, who sponsored one of the opposition’s nine proliferation laws, reiterated earlier claims that the Bennett-Lapid government was “weak” and “evil.”

Levin said it was “the worst government in Israel’s history”, adding that the government “was created on the basis of blind hatred and a unique embezzlement of voters’ trust”.

His latest allegation referred to the fact that the coalition was built on a platform for campaigning against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and accuses right-wing coalition parties of betraying voters by agreeing to join left-wing and Arab lawmakers.

“We are putting Israel on a new path today. From hatred to love, Levin said.

Likud MK Yariv Levin speaks during a discussion and a vote on a bill to dissolve the Knesset, June 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi / Flash90)

United Torah Judaism MK Yitzhak Pindrus and Levin opened their remarks by reciting shehecheyanu, a prayer that celebrates special occasions. Ultra-Orthodox leaders have welcomed the impending dissolution of the Knesset and government, and many have attributed its downfall to divine intervention.

The government was sworn in just a year ago and marketed itself as a “change government”, but MK Aida Touma-Sliman from the opposition’s joint list accused it had been bad for Arab society.

The Commonwealth Party had previously been allied with Ra’am, which broke with the traditional Arab political line to sit with the coalition.

“The only change is the change in name, from Netanyahu to Bennett,” Touma-Sliman said.

“Everything else is a continuation of the policy, especially with the settlements,” she added.

Although both the government and the opposition agree that the current coalition’s term of office is over, a competition has quickly arisen over how the government will fall and under what conditions.

The opposition makes the latest attempt to bypass the government and end the coalition, not through dissolution, but rather by replacing the current government with one of its own.

The Likud-led opposition and its leader Netanyahu have an opportunity to shorten the election and immediately take over the reins of power: If the right-wing religious 55-seat bloc can attract at least six more coalition members, it could immediately form a new government in the current Knesset. .

MKs Idit Silman, Yamina’s former coalition whip who left the coalition in May, and religious Zionism’s Simcha Rotman, speak ahead of a preliminary vote to dissolve the Knesset for new elections, June 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi / Flash90)

The opposition has been following this strategy since April, when the coalition’s former whip and legislator from Bennett’s own Yamina party, Idit Silman, withdrew from the coalition and forced it to a parity of 60-60 seats with the opposition. The opposition has reportedly tried to pull more defected MKs from the coalition’s right and center flanks, but two and a half months later only one extra MK – Nir Orbach, also from Yamina – jumped off.

The coalition is a large tent alliance of eight cross-party parties, formed to block Netanyahu from continuing at the helm of Israel after 12 consecutive years in power.

Although it sought to avoid ideological roadblocks, political debates and security incidents – which touch on the core of ideological divisions – made the political alliance increasingly unmanageable.

Discussion and vote on a bill to dissolve the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 22, 2022 (Olivier Fitoussi / Flash90)

Opposition leaders allied with Netanyahu have publicly expressed confidence that their parties will win a majority in elections, but behind closed doors they have been more afraid of a vote, Channel 12 reported on Tuesday.

At the same time, opinion polls have shown that if the current political blocs remain static, the situation will probably remain deadlocked after the election. The polls have consistently shown that the parties loyal to Netanyahu do better in a vote, but without a clear path to a majority. The joint list with the Arab majority, which does not support either side, keeps the balance of power.

However, Bennett’s Yamina party has not said it will not sit with Netanyahu. In fact, the two defectors are currently advocating an alternative government led by Likud, and Bennett’s longtime Yamina partner – Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked – is said to be actively seeking an alternative to ally with the right-wing party.

With Yamina’s seats, a right-wing religious alliance chooses strongly enough to build a narrow coalition.

Mansour Abbas, who leads the Islamist Ra’am party, has also previously said he would sit with Likud. Abbas, who turned the story of Arab politics upside down by joining a coalition, may have to join his party in the next coalition to give his political revolution another chance to show results to his base.

Netanyahu, for his part, has called on the coalition to rely on Abbas and the opposition’s majority of Arab coalition parties, and said on Monday that he would not sit with Abbas.

Netanyahu is credited with clearing the idea of ​​bringing Ra’am into a coalition, although he refuses to do so. It has been widely reported and claimed by Abbas that Ra’am and Likud were in coalition negotiations in the spring of 2021, before falling apart due to the objection of religious Zionism.

Opposition party leaders Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism, Aryeh Deri of Shas and Bezalel Smotrich of Religious Zionism all fear that right-wing lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir will peel away their voters, the Channel 12 report also states. An ultra-right-wing zealot who leads Otzma Yehudit, folded under Smotrich’s religious Zionism, Ben Gvir has grown in popularity and may be in a strong position to make demands on Smotrich.

The election is likely to take place in late October or early November.