On Thursday, the leader of the Yisrael Beytenu party and the Finance Minister, Avigdor Liberman said that he has no plans of forming a new government with Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the opposition. This statement comes while the coalition is teetering and does not have a majority of votes that are required for pushing forward an essential piece of legislation and seems to be heading towards a collapse. In an interview, Liberman stated that he would not sit with the former prime minister, not as a partner in the government and not as the premier either.
He further added that the political partners of Netanyahu in the United Torah Judaism and the Shas parties, along with far-right lawmakers Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, could not be considered potential allies. Even though it was under Netanyahu that Liberman had started his political career, the Finance Minister has become his bitter enemy and after previous elections, he refused to join the former premier in a coalition as well. In early April, MK Idit Silman quit the coalition, which resulted in the government losing its razor-thin majority. This week, reports showed that that the coalition does not have enough votes for renewing a legislation that would extend the criminal and civil law of Israel to settlers in the West Bank.
Last week, results of a poll indicated that Netanyahu is gaining favor of the voters and was closer to securing the majority in the Knesset. As a matter of fact, there were also reports that the New Hope party of the Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar was in talks with the Likud party of the former premier about setting up a government. But, he denied any such reports. In fact, he is the one who is leading the bill aimed at extending the Israeli laws to people in the West Bank, excluding the Palestinians.
While West Bank has not been annexed, the measure is aimed at ensuring that Israelis living there are treated in the same way as if they are part of Israel, but the same legal rules do not apply to Palestinians. The law had been originally implemented after the 1967 Six Day War and has to be renewed after five years. The law had been passed back in 2017 and now needs to be renewed after it expires the end of this month. Earlier this week, Sa’ar had said that the passing of this controversial yet technical bill is essential for the future of the government.
However, the only holdout against the bill from the coalition is the Islamist Ra’am party. While reports indicated that Mansour Abbas, the party chairman, would support the bill, it was unclear if the rest of the party would do the same. The problem is that even if the party does decide to vote, they would still have 60 votes and it is not enough for pushing the legislation forward if the MKs in the opposition decide to vote against it, which they are likely to do.