Coalition Hobbles Back for Summer Session

By Yisrael Price

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a cabinet meeting, (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM – The Israeli government coalition faces yet another test of its survivability next Monday, when the Knesset returns from its recess.

The coalition is currently at its weakest since assuming power last year, amid losing its majority in the Knesset after Yamina MK Idit Silman resigned, the Islamist Ra’am party still out in protest against the government’s handling of the violence in Ramadan, together with budgetary issues.

In anticipation of a renewed effort by the opposition to topple the government, coalition party leaders circulated a letter on Tuesday requiring strict attendance of Knesset sessions to fight off no-confidence motions and other parliamentary attacks.

“During the first three weeks of the session’s opening, no absences will be possible, for any reason,” the letter read, in bold and underlined font, The Times of Israel reported.

After the three weeks, all absences from a plenum workday – generally Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday – must be approved by coalition management, after a five-day advance notice and identification of an opposition MK with whom to pair off to offset each other’s vote, so that it will not give the opposition an edge in voting.

Coalition management is itself an uncertain factor, as Silman’s post as coalition whip is to be filled by a temporary replacement.

Although the coalition agreement calls for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to appoint an MK from his party, he was unable to find one in Yamina who was willing to step in, according to The Jerusalem Post, citing party sources.

Deputy coalition chairman Boaz Toporovsky of Yesh Atid will handle the duties of whip in the interim, which include convene the meetings of faction chairpersons to decide on proposed legislation, and ensuring a majority for every bill brought to a vote in the Knesset.

Response to the coalition’s urgings have so far been lackluster. A special meal arranged for coalition members and their spouses that was set for Friday was canceled because there were not enough Knesset members willing to attend, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Silman predicted the demise of the coalition on Monday night, saying that more defectors will soon follow. “The next in line is just a matter of time,” she said. “This government is living on borrowed time. The train has left the station.”

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