Prime Minister Naftali Bennett estimated at a Yamina faction meeting a few days ago that if the Judea and Samaria regulations bill fails to be passed by the Knesset in the next two weeks, it would mark the end of his coalition government, Reshet Bet radio reported Sunday morning. Faction members who were at the meeting told Reshet Bet’s political reporter Ze’ev Kam that Bennett was referring to the threats issued by MK Nir Orbach and said that another attempt would be made to approve the law, but if it doesn’t pass in the next two weeks, it means “the story is over.”
MK Nir Orbach, one of the four remaining members of Bennett’s Yamina faction loyalists, told the PM last Wednesday that he no longer sees any chance that the government would last. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, one of Bennett’s other remaining loyalists, asked Orbach in another meeting to wait a few days before the announcement of his decision to resign.
The bill in question died in a preliminary plenum vote last Monday, and the regulations will expire July 1, making Israeli settlers the subjects of the IDF administrative government. Bennett and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar have been unable to get 61 votes in favor of this bill which, at any other time, would have passed by 70 to 80 votes.
Ra’am Chairman MK Mansour Abbas has given up on trying to push his MKs to vote in favor of the Judea and Samaria regulations bill, because his MKs are anti-Zionist Islamists, and voting for the bill would constitute support for the Jewish settlements in the 1967 liberated territories. Abbas has advised Sa’ar and the other right-wing members of the Lapid-Bennett government to resolve the problem by ordering the military Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to adopt all the items in the bill as COGAT policy. It should work, but only as a temporary measure.
MK Orbach has been telling the Yamina faction members that he does not believe the coalition would be able to pass the next budget come January 1, 2023, and since a government that fails to pass a budget must resign anyway, what’s the point in keeping it going through that unavoidable, humiliating defeat? Incidentally, MK Orbach refuses to rely on the Joint Arab List to vote in favor of the budget.
The Likud will ask Orbach to support the dissolution of the Knesset this week, according to Reshet Bet. If Orbach won’t announce his support for the move, the Likud would probably refrain from a vote on dissolving the Knesset. The right-wing opposition parties now estimate that the vote to dissolve the Knesset would be postponed until the end of June, at a time when the expiration of the Judea and Samaria regulations would force Orbach’s hand to support new elections.
Last Monday, Orbach announced he would not be voting with the coalition until further notice.