Naftali Bennett’s eight-party coalition is falling apart, most of it lost because Yamin’s party leader has failed to maintain the loyalty of his party’s lawmakers.
While seven very different Yamina partners ultimately supported the coalition in the most difficult moments – most notably its own initial vote of confidence in the Knesset last June and the adoption of the budget in November – it was Bennett’s party members who caused some of the biggest problems. now led to the fall of his government.
Bennett lost the support of one of his party colleagues, Alona Davidi, even before the Knesset was sworn in: Mayor Sderot Davidi decided not to even take a seat on the Knesset because of his opposition to an alliance with center-left parties. He barely managed to get support from MK Nir Orbach, who nearly knocked down the whole project in the beginning. He quickly lost the support of another, Amihaya Chickley, who opposed the coalition in its vote and became a de facto member of the opposition.
And on Wednesday, Bennett lost important support for his coalition whip, Idit Silman. With her resignation and stated determination to help build a right-wing coalition in the current Knesset, so has its ruling majority, and one or more of the remaining Yamina MPs can still follow her example.
The coalition has not yet collapsed. The path to an alternative majority under Benjamin Netanyahu is difficult. So is the path to the dissolution of the Knesset and new elections. But the days of government are numbered.
There has always been a chance that the government will fall apart sooner or later: the closer it got to the Prime Minister’s planned rotation to Ash Yiddish leader Jair Lapid in the autumn of 2023, the more prosperous its breakup with Yamin’s membership centrist, secular Lapid. But Silman’s resignation radically accelerated the slide to his demise.
Silman noted that the ideological drop that broke her back was the coalition’s readiness to comply with a High Court ruling that hospitals could not ban people from bringing hamets – non-kosher food for Easter – during a holiday that begins late next week.
This objection is easy to ridicule as a reason – the court’s decision is not new, and there was no chance that the coalition is trying to overcome it. However, Silman was clearly becoming increasingly embarrassed by the fact that he was not just sitting in this most diverse of Israeli governments, but was twisting his arms to get his legislation passed as a coalition whip.
And her open discomfort only caused pressure from the right-wing Knesset opposition deputies, who took care of and ridiculed her as a “little girl”, recognizing her as the weakest link. She may also have felt that pressure from the right was mounting, and was more concerned about the legitimacy of the coalition as terror escalated in recent weeks.
Clearly, Silman would also like to pursue a political career, and therefore seems to have become the last in a long line of lawmakers to believe in the promise of a bright future made by future Prime Minister Likud. Netanyahu.
Bennett’s coalition could go a little further. The simple fact that the Knesset is on hiatus until early next month complicates some of the potential processes of its rejection.
But the impetus against Netanyahu – personal hostility to the Likud leader and concern for the threat he could pose to Israeli democracy – has allowed Lapid to unite a strange alliance of left, right, centrist and Arab parties, all of which have stopped. Simple and important achievements of the coalition – the adoption of the budget, consensus, the desire for at least some time to detoxify the climate of political debate – are overshadowed. The solid right-wing majority in the Knesset makes itself known. The opposition is now gaining the upper hand. Netanyahu insists on more defectors.
The opposition United List of mostly Arab parties will not want to help Netanyahu return to power. But even if some members of the United List intended to support Bennett, MPs from several coalition parties would not be willing to count on the support of the ruling majority in the United List.
This government has been balanced on the sharpness of a knife from the beginning. After Bennett lost Chickley, and the coalition was reduced to 61 supporters in the 120-seat Knesset, each of those 61 had the right to condemn her. Whatever it was, and no matter how long it took, Silman on Wednesday dealt a fatal blow.
Some analysts said Wednesday that Bennett could keep his capricious 61-man team together if he only spent more time caring for the concerns and needs of Silman and other potential defectors and retirees rather than devoting energy to creating an international Netanyahu-style profile. for example, by offering his mediation skills in the Russian-Ukrainian war.
But as David’s departure, Chickley’s immediate desertion and Silman’s new resignation underscore, his failure goes deeper and dates back to the 2021 election and subsequent negotiations that led to his coalition. Bennett’s fatal political mistake was that he chose a letter from Yamin to the Knesset, which, unlike all the other seven parties in the coalition, did not want to follow its leader.