Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid (There’s a Future) party began the legislative process on Thursday, June 3, to try to replace the current speaker of the Knesset, Yariv Levin of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, with Yesh Atid lawmaker Mickey Levy. Yesh Atid took the step without informing its future coalition partner, Yamina, whose leader, Naftali Bennett, is slated to become prime minister, putting at risk majority Knesset support for the move.
The six lawmakers of the Joint List signed the call initiated by the “change bloc” for a vote to replace Knesset Speaker Levin, giving the bid a parliamentary majority despite the objection of Yamina MK Nir Orbach to the move. The move would enable the new government to be sworn in as early as next Monday, June 7. If Levin remains in the speaker’s chair, he can legally delay a vote on the new government for a week or more, giving the Likud more time to try to peel away rebels from the right-wing factions of the new coalition.
The Likud swiftly responded, attacking Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid for “relying on the Joint List” and calling on more far-right Yamina and New Hope MKs to oppose the collaboration. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent Thursday meeting with other party leaders from what would nominally be considered the right-wing bloc, as well as devising strategies to offset the attempt to unseat his Likud ally Yariv Levin as Knesset Speaker.
“We want to be rid of Yariv Levin as Knesset Speaker,” tweeted Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) on Thursday. “Ridding ourselves of Mr. Netanyahu means ridding ourselves of his politics and his manners,” she added, “so all of his public servants must go.” “Levin is Netanyahu’s operational executor, and disgraces his position as Knesset Speaker in doing so,” Joint List MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash) added. “A man like him [Levin], who has called to undo a ruling of the High Court of Justice, presents an immediate threat to the independence of the parliament. We will urgently push for his replacement.”