Opposition Set to Vote Against Citizenship Law as Coalition Can’t Muster Majority

The Knesset. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

After the Citizenship Law failed to pass the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee earlier Monday, opposition members are to meet to decide how they will vote when the law reaches the Knesset plenum later in the day.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) said however they vote, the coalition will not fall apart.

Coalition partners Ra’am and Meretz oppose the law, a temporary measure first passed in 2003 which stops Palestinians who marry Israelis from obtaining Israeli citizenship on security grounds, and have promised to vote against it, denying the government a majority.

The opposition parties have denounced the coalition for its failure to pass the law due to the presence of Arab party Ra’am and Meretz in the coalition.

Religious Zionist party head MK Betzalel Smotrich said his party would vote against the law, citing the government’s siding with “anti-Zionist and post-Zionist parties.”

“This government is galloping into the abyss, threatening to smash the State of Israel with it, and asking us to be their spare tire that will allow them to continue galloping into the abyss,” Smotrich said at a faction meeting. “We will not give in to this.”

Head of the opposition Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) has demanded that the Citizenship Law be passed as a two-month measure during which time the Likud’s Immigration Law, which would permanently deny family reunification to Palestinians marrying Israelis, would be legislated.

The coalition has thus far rejected his offer.

At the Yamina faction meeting at the Knesset on Monday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett claimed that voting against the law of “national security” is “crossing a red line.”

“There are some things you don’t play with. The nation needs control over who comes in,” he said.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked noted that currently the bill does not have a majority to pass, but hopes it will have one by the end of the day.

“Most terror attacks carried out by Arab Israelis were ones that came from family reunifications or their descendants. I call on the heads of the opposition: Show responsibility for the security of Israeli citizens.”

Chairman of United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said at the beginning of the weekly faction meeting: “Suddenly, when the coalition has a problem, they come to us and ask us to show responsibility. We will not be their ‘Shabbos goyim.‘ We show responsibility – and we are trying to overthrow this government, that is our responsibility to the citizens of Israel. This government is damaging to the State of Israel. There is no limit to their hypocrisy. This government has no right to exist.”

MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman added: “Where are Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Gideon Sa’ar, who declared and promised that they have a veto right in voting on religious matters and that they will protect the chareidi public? You passed the Dayanim Law, which goes against the chareidi public, without any veto. You allow [Finance Minister Avigdor] Liberman to severely harm the chareidi families and prevent them from receiving day care assistance, without any veto on your part. You continue to lie to the public and violate the rights of the chareidi public, and now you dare to ask us to be your lifeline for the Citizenship Law?

“This bad government must be dismantled, and the quicker the better.”

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