On Friday, Gideon Sa’ar intensified his warnings about the survival of the coalition, if they were not able to pass the legislation for renewing the legislation that extends the civil and criminal law of Israel to settlers in the West Bank. However, the Justice Minister also criticized the leader of the opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu for deciding to not support the bill for his political agenda. Sa’ar talked to supporters of his New Hope party in a video call and said that the bill needs the support of all parties that are part of the fragile coalition of the government.
He stated that if the coalition is not able to come together on this legislation, they would have to face the consequences. He added that the existence of the government was endangered because of this dilemma. He went on to say that his party wants to see a well-functioning government in Israel and survival was not their only goal. He made his comments days after the Meretz party announced that it would provide its support to the bill, which meant that only the Islamist Ra’am party of the coalition was holding out. The party has not disclosed how it would vote, but generally, they are not in favor of granting rights to settlers that are not extended to Palestinians.
But, even if Ra’am does decide to vote in favor of the legislation, this would still leave Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition with 60 votes. They do not have a majority in the Knesset, which means the law cannot be approved if the opposition leaders vote against it. The Likud-led opposition is not against the renewal of the law in principle, but the party has vowed that it will not support any bill that is sponsored by the government because they want to topple the coalition.
This prompted Sa’ar to criticize Netanyahu and he went as far as accusing him of irresponsibility and cynicism. He added that the former premier was harming their ability of ensuring West Bank governance. The justice minister said that the opposition wants to be in power, or else it does not have a problem with letting the country ‘burn’. He said that he hoped they would come to their senses because bringing down this legislation would not help anyone. Furthermore, the minister also denied all reports that had been surfacing about his New Hope party in talks with Likud for setting up an alternate coalition and taking down this one.
But, it should be noted that Sa’ar did not rule out having such negotiations in the future. The bill in question is one that has been implemented in Israel since 1967 and has to be renewed after every five years. If it is not renewed, it would mean that Israeli settlers in the West Bank would also have to comply with military law, just like the Palestinians. Since Sa’ar’s party is against statehood for Palestinians and in favor of settlements, he wants the law to receive the approval it requires.