Israel’s state budget vote crumbles coalition’s true test


Although the coalition has yet to resolve the crisis sparked by the resignation of Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, many in government believe the leftist lawmaker will eventually overturn her decision.

Senior government officials believe that the next real challenge for this government is not potential deserters, but rather the upcoming vote on the state budget.

3 See the gallery

Meretz MP Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi (left) and former coalition whip Idit Silman

(Photo: Hadar Yoavian, Ilya Malinkov)

The coalition needs a simple majority to pass the budget. This seemingly simple task, however, has been complicated by the resignation of former coalition whip Idit Silman, who left the government with just 60 seats in the plenum (before Zoabi’s resignation which the coalition believes can be reversed).

In recent days, the coalition has reportedly formulated a plan to push through the budget. According to this plan, the first reading of the budget vote will be brought forward to next month – that is to say the end of June – in order to give the coalition time to maneuver politically.

The plan is based on the assumption that Zoabi – who will meet Foreign Secretary Yair Lapid later today to present a series of demands – will not undermine the approval of the budget.

This means that only Silman can sabotage the vote as she is still part of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina faction despite resigning from government in April.

There are reports that Yamina intends to kick Silman out of the faction if she votes against the budget, believing that torpedoing such a large vote is reason enough to do so. The move would bar him from running in the next election, as was done for former rebel MP Yamina Amichai Chikli.

The coalition believes that to avoid sanctions that would end his political career and his aspirations within the ranks of the opposition Likud party, Silman would instead choose to resign from the Knesset altogether, which would free up a seat for the next person on the the list – Yamina MK Yomtov Kalfon – who should vote in favor of the budget.

Regardless of what Silman decides to do, talks on the next state budget vote are already in the final stages, and the coalition leaders’ goal is to peacefully survive the Knesset’s summer session. ends at the end of July.

As for Zoabi, in her next meeting with Lapid – and in another scheduled meeting with her party’s chairman, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz – the Arab lawmaker is expected to obtain a series of promises regarding the budgets of the Arab sector.

Zoabi is also expected to demand that she receive credit for actions taken by the Ra’am party to improve the Arab sector.

Meanwhile, protesters who arrived at Zoabi’s home in northern Israel on Saturday evening with demands that she rescind her resignation were amicably greeted by the lawmaker, who then handed them candy before d announce that his decision “is final”.

“We will now see how we can prevent a situation where [former premier and current opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu] will return to power,” Rinawie Zoabi told protesters. “I want the government to understand that it has to be fair to Arab society.”

Meretz MP Mossi Raz, meanwhile, announced that he was withdrawing from the Ministerial Committee for Legislation his proposal to amend the controversial nation-state law” – which states that “the right to exercise national self-determination” in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people” – due to “opposition from the right-wing sector of the coalition”.

“We are committed to the stability of the government and its continued smooth functioning in the years to come,” Raz added.

On Monday, the coalition and the opposition will clash during the plenum over the law which aims to subsidize 60% of the tuition fees of demobilized Tsahal fighters.

The coalition apparently lacks a majority in the law, in light of Silman’s resignation, while the opposition refuses to back the law.

Netanyahu’s Likud, meanwhile, announced that it would only support the law if it funded 100% of tuition – a subsidy rate that was a pie in the sky even for the 12 years in Likud power.

The coalition believes that overturning a bill that benefits IDF veterans will only serve to embarrass Likud. Therefore, he intends to put the bill to a vote on Monday and require a recorded vote — meaning every Likud member who opposes the bill will be forced to say so verbally and publicly.


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