MK Nir Orbach, one of the four remaining members of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina faction loyalists, said in a conversation with the PM Wednesday that he no longer sees any chance that the government will last. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, one of the other loyalists, asked Orbach to wait a few days with the announcement of his decision to resign in a meeting they held to coordinate their future moves. It’s rats-on-sinking-ship time for the first Israeli prime minister who managed to leverage six Knesset seats into a full year (this week) of running the country.
Somebody, call Guinness’ Book of World Records. If they’re busy, try Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar intends to seek the approval of the Ministerial Legislative Committee (which he chairs) for his failed bill extending emergency regulations in Judea and Samaria. The bill died in a preliminary plenum vote on Monday, and will expire July 1, essentially making Israeli settlers subjects of the IDF administrative government. Sa’ar just can’t get 61 votes in favor of this bill which, at any other point in the Knesset history, would have passed by 70 to 80 votes. So why is the justice minister running up against the same brick wall a second time, and as he has threatened, a third time if he has to?
Maybe he wants this bill to galvanize a chunk of settlers’ votes in his favor come the next election. At this point, were the elections held today, Bennett’s Yamina party would squeeze in with 4 seats, but Sa’ar’s New Hope appears hopeless – they can’t break through the threshold vote barrier.
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 (they have a different name for them). Abbas has advised Sa’ar et al in the coalition to try to resolve the problem using executive orders, which are temporary but would do the job for now. One option would be for the military Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to adopt all the items in Sa’ar’s bill as COGAT policy. It should work.
But, as I said, Sa’ar is not looking for solutions, he’s looking for an alibi, a dignified way to walk out of this silly coalition government that hasn’t been able to pass anything – and slam the door behind him because the noise might tip him past the 3.25% vote threshold.
Back to MK Orbach – he has been telling his associates in the Yamina faction in recent days that he does not believe the coalition would be able to pass the next budget anyway, 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, because, you know, like the coalition-member Ra’am, they, too, are anti-Zionists and pro-terrorists. But, as FDR put it about the dictator of Nicaragua, Anastasio Somoza: “Somoza may be an SOB, but he’s our SOB.”
In Wednesday’s vote on raising the minimum wage, which was won handily by the opposition, Sa’ar purposefully vetoed any attempt on the part of Ra’am and Meretz to vote with the enemy (Minimum Wage Bill Passed in First Knesset Reading Despite Coalition Efforts). The bill passed by a vote of 23 to 4. It now goes to committee for debate and amendments, but should it pass, it would raise the minimum hourly wage to NIS 40 ($12). It will then result in employers raising what they charge for goods and services, a raise that would result in the taxpayers paying for the increased cost with their… you guessed it, their increased minimum wages. It’s a stupid bill, and yet it was passed, by an opposition that’s led by one of Israel’s only politicians who know economics, MK Benjamin Netanyahu.
Expect most of the Arab MKs to vote down Sa’ar’s Judea and Samaria regulations bill when he submits it to the plenum in a second, futile, effort. But, not to worry, Sa’ar is not expecting the Arab MKs, including those in Ra’am and Meretz, to support his bill. In fact, he’s counting on their objections to improve his standing with his potential voters (who could fit into a medium-size gym). Likewise, the Arab MKs also rely on the same vote to improve their stance with their voters. Currently, three separate factions are chasing the Arab vote, but don’t be surprised if the Arab voters prefer to stay home come election day. They, too, have been to this rodeo.