Monday, Knesset Speaker Levin to Announce Lapid-Bennett Coalition

Knesset Speaker MK Yariv Levin (Likud) confirmed on Friday afternoon, June 4, that he would announce on Monday, June 7, that Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid has managed to form a coalition, a technical step required before the Knesset can approve the new government.

Levin’s announcement came after concerns were raised that he would attempt to delay this initial step. However, while on paper the prospective coalition commands a slender majority in Israel’s parliament, the mandatory vote of confidence is not expected to take place for as much as another week, meaning that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will still have time to convince potential defectors to abandon the new coalition built from a range of unlikely political bedfellows.

MK Ayman Odeh (second from right) during an anti-Netanyahu protest held at Kohav Yair Junction, May 14, 2021; the placard Odeh's holding reads "Equality."

MK Ayman Odeh (second from right) during an anti-Netanyahu protest held at Kohav Yair Junction, May 14, 2021; the placard Odeh’s holding reads “Equality.” (Photo: Zo Haderech)

The eight-party coalition that aims to oust Netanyahu appears increasingly likely to secure the necessary majority support in the Knesset, Al-Ittihad reported Saturday morning, June 5. The assessment among all members of the “change bloc,” led by Prime Minister-designate far-right MK Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, is that the coalition will indeed win a vote of confidence with a wafer-thin vote of 61-59 the narrowest possible majority in the 120-seat Knesset. The unprecedented diverse alliance of eight parties forming the coalition will therefore be vulnerable both in the coming week or at any time in the future to even a single defection that would allow its toppling by a vote of no confidence. The eight parties making up the coalition include: Yesh Atid (17 seats), Blue & White (8), Yisrael Beytenu (7), Labor (7), Yamina (6 of its 7 MKs), New Hope (6), Meretz (6) and Islamist Ra’am (4).

On Friday afternoon, Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) announced that his parliamentary faction will not support the Bennett-Lapid coalition if they need additional votes due to any last minute defections. “If the Bennett-Lapid government needs my vote to save itself from failure at the last minute, they unequivocally will not get it.” Odeh said in a news interview with the Arabic television channel Hala TV. According to Joint List lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash), “We must oppose the new deal because getting rid of Netanyahu and keeping his path is a political mistake.”

Since the Knesset vote of confidence for the new government is only likely to be held on Monday, June 14, and because the coalition is currently based on a 61-59 majority, whereby a single defection could doom it, the potential for the picture to change cannot be discounted. This is in part due to the fact that the various coalition agreements have not been finalized, and no less so because of the potential for Israel’s dynamic political reality to change within days or even hours.

For example, next Thursday, June 10, a controversial settler’s Flag March is reportedly to be held in occupied East Jerusalem, and Jewish fascist participants have been given police permission to parade through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. In May, when a similar parade was to take place there on Israel’s Jerusalem Day, commemorating the conquest of the Old City in the June 1967 War, recent Israeli provocations culminated in rocket fire by Hamas in Gaza, which in turn ignited 11 days of open military hostilities between the two sides.

MK Ayman Odeh gives news interview (in Arabic) to Hala TV:

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