On Thursday, the Likud party announced that the whole function would be voting against a bill put forward by the coalition for funding tuition scholarships for combat soldiers who are newly released. This move was announced after a group of members of the Likud party had expressed their support for the bill initially. In a statement, the party stated that they would only give their support, which the coalition needs for passing the bill, if they make amendments to the measure. The amendment would include coverage for 100% of the tuition of the discharged troops, as opposed to the proposed two-thirds.
The party stated that ‘all members’ had signed a document that pledged to only offer support to the coalition bill if it covers 100% of the expenses and further added that they had negotiated with the coalition for increasing the funding. The statement from Likud said that they were standing with the IDF soldiers. It stated that the soldiers give their 100% and deserve the same in return, but the coalition is refusing to increase the scholarships. The party said that they would be opposing all bills put forward by this dangerous government and would work to take it down.
Earlier on Thursday, leaders of the coalition had announced that they would conduct the vote on the scholarship legislation on Monday, which dared the opposition lawmakers to oppose it. The announcement from Likud was followed by indications of dissent in the party against the decision of the opposition leader and chairman Benjamin Netanyahu to oppose the bill. This was due to fears that their opposition would have political consequences because the legislation is quite a popular one. Miki Zohar and Yoav Gallant, the veteran members of the Knesset, shared their support for the bill and encouraged their fellow faction members to join them.
However, the tides turned after the announcement on Thursday by Meretz MK Rinawie Zoabi to resign from the coalition. Her departure means that the ruling party has now become a minority in the Knesset, as they only have 59 seats out of the total 120. The surprise resignation of the lawmaker had resulted in an uproar in the political arena in Israel and put the entire coalition at risk. A video statement came from Netanyahu to show the unanimous opposition of the Likud party to the legislation in which Gallant could be seen standing with him.
Gallant is a former general of the IDF and Netanyahu told him that he understood how important it was to provide the soldiers with their full support. If the scholarship bill is amended for covering the entire tuition of the IDF veterans instead of just two-thirds of it, additional funds of about NIS 50 million ($14.8 million) would be needed. Likud attacked Bennett and his coalition by pointing out that this sum of money had been promised to Arab Israeli communities, something that is a priority for the Islamist Ra’am party of the coalition. The opposition has been against the inclusion of the Ra’am party in the coalition and has called the government ‘terror supporters’.