Israel’s governing coalition will never be the same after Monday’s vote on a bill that sought to ensure Israeli jurisdiction over settlers in Judea and Samaria. If until now Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid have been able to smile and assure everyone it was “business as usual” for the coalition despite taking one political punch after another, the failed vote erased any trace of optimism.
The Bennett government is on its last legs and it is only a matter of time before it falls.
Two political events on Monday signaled the coalition’s impending demise: the first being that not only was the jurisdiction bill voted down, it was voted down by Ra’am—a coalition member. The Islamist party’s MK bolted the Knesset plenum ahead of the vote, which sank it for good.
The second event was when former coalition chair Idit Silman actively, vocally opposed the appointment of Matan Kahana as religious services minister. This indicated that Silman was unfazed by the threats to declare her a rogue MK—not when it comes to important bills the opposition wants to defeat.
All this means that the government has officially lost the Knesset majority and from this point forward it will be unable to legislate—or vote on anything else—without the support of the opposition.
This renders Bennett’s government crippled and ineffective, a government that cannot even enforce voting discipline on its own members and is therefore constantly subject to extortion from all directions in order to ensure its survival.
On the eve of the government’s inception, its leaders, especially from Yamina and New Hope, explained that the breach of campaign promises not to join a government with Ra’am and Meretz was a lesser evil than and better alternative to a dysfunctional government that is unable to manage state affairs.
On Monday, the government became just that.
The real question, however, is what is next for New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar, and whether he means to make amends or push the government over the edge. By pushing the Judea and Samaria bill to a vote a month ahead of time and declaring that it was critical to the government’s survival—as well as refusing to categorically deny that his party was negotiating with Likud—Sa’ar essentially instigated the crisis.
If the government’s days are numbered due to the vote, Sa’ar will have been the one who pulled the plug. At present, it is unclear whether this is the result he was hoping for or whether he realized the magnitude of his mistake only when it was too late.
Mati Tuchfeld is Israel Hayom’s senior political correspondent.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.