How Naphtali Bennett judged his own alliance

Naftali Bennett’s eight-party coalition is collapsing, a thin majority of which was lost because the leader of the Yamina party failed to maintain the loyalty of his own party’s legislators.

Although Yamina’s seven very diverse partners ended up with the Alliance through its darkest moments – in particular their own first trust vote in the Knesset last June and the budget passage in November – it was Bennett’s own party that caused the most problems. , and have now launched the fall of their government.

Bennett lost the support of one of his party colleagues, Alon Davidi, before the Knesset was even sworn in: Sderot’s mayor Davidi did not even decide to take his seat in the Knesset because of his opposition to the center-left coalition. He barely managed to argue for support from MK Nir Orbach, who shot down almost the entire project at the beginning. He quickly lost the support of another, Amichai Chikli, who opposed the alliance in the investment vote and has in fact become an opposition leader.

And on Wednesday, Bennett lost the decisive support of the coalition party Idit Silman. With her resignation and outspoken intent to help form a right-wing coalition in the current parliament, his governing majority left, and one or more of Yamina’s remaining MPs could still follow.

The coalition has not fallen yet. The path to a substitute, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, is complex. So is the path to parliamentary dissolution and new elections. But the days of government are numbered.

It was always likely that the government would fall apart sooner rather than later: The closer it was to swap prime ministerships with Yair Lapid leader Yesh Atid in the autumn of 2023, the higher the prospects for its collapse, with Yamina joining. particularly concerned about the idea of ​​sitting under the middle man, secular lapid. But Silman’s resignation has radically accelerated the pace of death.

Defeated Benjamin Netanyahu walks away after briefly handing over a new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, after the Knesset voted with confidence in Bennett’s alliance by 60-59 votes, June 13, 2021. MK Idit Silman is by Bennett. (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP)

The ideological straw that broke her back, Silman said, was the Alliance’s readiness to abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling that hospitals should not ban people from bringing hametz – non-kosher food for Easter – during the holidays that begin at the end of next week.

It is easy to ridicule these objections as a pretext – the court ruling is not new and there was no chance that the coalition would try to defeat it. Still, Silman was clearly becoming more and more uncomfortable sitting not only in this diverse Israeli government, but turning his arms around to get his legislation passed as a coalition.

And her open displeasure offered a little more pressure from right-wing opposition MPs, who hailed her and mocked her as a “little girl” and recognized her as the weakest link. She may also have felt that right-wing pressure has increased and is more concerned about the legitimacy of the coalition, as terrorism has intensified in recent weeks.

Apparently, Silman also wanted to continue his political career and seems to have become the latest in a long line of legislators who rely on the promise of a glittering future from the future Prime Minister Likud. Netanyahu.

Idit Silman chaired Knesset Health Committee meeting November 30, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

Bennett’s alliance could limp a little further. The simple fact that the parliament is on a recess until the beginning of next month complicates some possible processes for its expulsion.

But the force against Netanyahu – personal hatred of Likud leaders and concerns about the threat he poses to Israeli democracy – allowed Lapid to link the bizarre coalition of left, right, center and Arab parties, all that has stalled. The coalition’s simple, important achievements – passing the budget, working with solidarity, seeking at least some time to detoxify the atmosphere of political debate – are darkening. The solid right-wing majority of the parliament shows itself. The opposition has the upper hand now. Netanyahu is pushing for more defectors.

The opposition’s joint list, mainly Arab parties, will not want to help pave the way for Netanyahu’s return to power. But even if some members of the United List were interested in supporting Bennett, MPs from several coalition parties would not be willing to rely on the United States’ support for a governing majority.

This government was in balance from the beginning. When Bennett lost Chikli, and the Alliance was reduced to 61 supporters in the 120-seat Knesset, each of those 61 had the power to judge it. However it plays, and how long it takes, Silman gave the death blow on Wednesday.

Some analysts claimed on Wednesday that Bennett could have kept his devastating 61-man team together if he had only spent more time addressing the concerns and needs of Silman and other potential defectors and departures, rather than wasting energy building an international profile. in the Netanyahu style. for example, by offering its mediating skills in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

But as Davidi’s departure, Chikli’s sudden departure and Silman’s recent resignation underline, his failure deepens and extends back to the 2021 elections and subsequent negotiations that led to his alliance. Bennett’s fatal political mistake was to choose Yamina Knesset’s list, which, unlike all seven other parties, did not want to follow its leader.

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