At 2:30 AM Tuesday, after a two-week clash between the Lapid-Bennett coalition and the Likud, the Knesset Plenum approved the “from uniform to school act” in the second and third readings (Lacking His Own Coalition’s Support, Bennett Rebukes Netanyahu for Opposing IDF Vets’ College Tuition). The approval was facilitated by Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s compromise proposal to raise the amount of the scholarship for discharged IDF combatants to 75% instead of 66% of their college tuition. The proposal passed with a majority of 55 MKs including opposition votes, and 6 opponents, the entire slate of the Joint Arab List.
Coalition Arab MK Ghaida Rinawie-Zoabi and the four members of the Ra’am faction were absent.
Yamina rogue MK Idit Silman was also absent from the vote.
“My goal is not to harm the Likud, but to strengthen IDF soldiers and preserve the integrity of the government,” Ganz said during the Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote. “Therefore, I would like to offer to accept the amendment that was offered by the opposition and increase the amount of the scholarship to 75%,” he added.
At the same time, a bill to limit the prime minister’s term to eight years was shelved by the coalition because it couldn’t secure a majority for the third and final reading – since the same coalition MKs who may have supported this anti-democratic legislation were busy avoiding the pro-IDF vote.
Like old Ed Koch of blessed memory used to say, some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you.
Gantz sounded almost like a prime minister during his Blue & White faction’s meeting ahead of the tuition bill vote when he sent a message to Ra’am saying he expects “all members of the coalition to take action to pass the law. I will not accept the shirking of responsibility to vote by any component of the coalition. As I said before, coalitional discipline is not a luxury but a basic condition for our ability to govern and to function.”
The problem is, Ra’am wasn’t impressed and its members abstained. Better than voting against, but still well below the defense minister’s expectations. He’ll have to keep practicing his authoritative tone, just in case he gets to use it in the near future, should he jump ship to a Likud coalition under his stewardship.