The Likud faction on Wednesday submitted the first no-confidence motion against the new unity government headed by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, claiming that it is a “government that was formed based on a lie and defrauding the public and lacks a public mandate.”
The motion was submitted by the Likud faction whip, MK Miki Zohar, on behalf of his faction, and Likud MK Ofir Akunis will present it next week in the Knesset plenum. Akunis quipped on the Likud WhatsApp group: “Unless they also ruled out the possibility of submitting no-confidence motions.”
It was a reference to the new government’s imposing a ban on private bills for the next month. The new coalition responded to the outcry from the opposition benches, saying: “As is customary in every Knesset, in the first month there are no private bills. The reason is to let Knesset members and ministers integrate into their new posts, let the committees be set up and get in motion, and then we will allow private legislation.”
Until 1996, no-confidence motions were submitted almost every week and served as the main tool of the opposition to slam the government. However, despite the ease of submitting no-confidence motions, such a motion only led to the overthrow of a government once: on March 15, 1990, in the notorious “stinky maneuver.”
A 1996 law placed severe restrictions on no-confidence motions, and from then on, for such a motion to pass, it had to win the support of the absolute majority of the Knesset, namely 61 votes. And that’s why the current motion is toothless – especially at this early stage of the game.
But wait, there’s more: the Basic Law: Knesset stipulates that for a no confidence in the incumbent government to work, it must be accompanied by a 61-vote motion of confidence in a different government, which has announced its basic policy outlines, its composition, and the distribution of portfolios among its ministers.
In other words, in a case where the right-wing bloc joins forces with the Arab parties to produce 61 no-confidence votes, the Bennett-Lapid government would remain in charge unless the right and the Joint Arab List can form a coalition government together. But, of course, Likud can also lure defectors from the incumbent coalition.
So, yes, it’s going to be an exciting four years, or one year, or three months, depending on one’s ideological aspirations.
Another example of the bad blood between opposition and coalition parties was the announcement on Tuesday by MK Zohar, that the opposition parties will no longer strike offset deals with the other side “until the end of the term.” Since the establishment of the Knesset, the offset deals helped lawmakers conduct their business away from the House, such as visit their constituencies, attend conferences, and fly abroad, by striking those offset agreements based on the honor system with colleagues from the other side of the aisle: if one MK is away, the other would stay away from the plenum during his or her absence.
Alas, much like the threat of numerous no-confidence votes, the ban of offset deals will also prove toothless. Zohar may have the best intentions at heart, but those can’t keep his MKs from going on all-expenses-paid junkets. They’re only human.
Likud whip Zohar added that “Bennett and Sa’ar are politicians without a public. If elections are held tomorrow, neither would pass the threshold percentage.”
He may be right. Both Bennett and Sa’ar received about a quarter of the votes the polls had predicted they would get, and Bennett has tasted once the bitterness of staying below the threshold of 3.25% of the votes. On the other hand, this tangible threat could motivate them to stick around through the end of the four-year term, and win back their disappointed voters.