The governing coalition of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett may have been crippled, but it is still alive. In fact, on Monday, it managed to stave off a major challenge from the opposition as the Knesset began its summer session. This shows that the coalition still has some muscle remaining and intends to disprove predictions of the government collapsing. The opposition opened the session by putting forward two motions of no-confidence. But, both of these did not manage to get the support necessary for removing the coalition of the government from power. There were only 52 votes in favor of the measure proposed by Likud, as opposed to 61 votes against it.
Another measure backed by Shak was also unsuccessful, with 52 in favor and 56 against. These no-confidence motions would have turned out to be embarrassing for the government, but wouldn’t have had much impact because the opposition does not have the 61 votes it needs for toppling the government. A voting majority of the MKs in the Knesset could be used by the opposition for expressing the lack of confidence it feels in the government. However, it only has the option of passing an additional bar for reshuffling the existing government within the Knesset, which is known as constructive no-confidence.
Before the vote, it was believed that the measures could win a majority that would have been symbolic, as there are divisions within the coalition. This is primarily because the Islamist Ra’am party has frozen its membership due to the tensions in Jerusalem and right-wing MKs appear to be defecting. The coalition had been plunged into uncertainty last month when Yamina MK Idit Silman resigned. She was not present for the no-confidence vote. Likewise Amichai Chikli, the renegade MK who had been ousted two weeks ago from Yamina, was also not present for the vote.
Previously, Chikli had stated that he would appeal his removal, as it has significant consequences where his political career is concerned. Therefore, he may have stayed back to not have to vote against the coalition. However, Silman does not intend to burn her ties with the Yamina party and even attended the meeting of the faction on Monday. Similarly, the Islamist Ra’am party did not attend the Knesset session, so the coalition did not have their four votes. They are on a freeze for three weeks. But, the Likud-backed measure was derailed by the Arab Joint List party with its six votes.
Either its MKs voted against it, or were not present in the plenum. Likewise, it did not vote for the Shas measure either. If lawmakers want to change the government with a no-confidence vote, they have to also propose an alternative government. This proposed government must then get a 61 vote majority in the Knesset and not just the majority of the members that are present. The Likud measure is believed to have included a clause for making the opposition leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister. Netanyahu taunted Bennett in the debate that led to the vote, saying it is over.