Israeli lawmakers to vote on new Bennett-Lapid government on Sunday

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Yamina lawmaker Nir Orbach on Tuesday told his party head, Naftali Bennett, that he intends to vote in support of the new government on  Sunday’s confidence vote in the Knesset.

In recent days, Orbach has debated whether he should back the proposed Bennett-Lapid government.

Orbach was also the target of immense public pressure on the political right to vote against forming the anti-Netanyahu government.

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It seems that the penny dropped only on Sunday afternoon. The formal announcement by Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin that a new government would be sworn in within a week brought home the message. Lawmakers and ministers from Likud and the ultra-Orthodox parties finally got it that cleaving to Benjamin Netanyahu had led them into a political deathtrap.

Just like he dragged them into four consecutive elections, he’s now dragging them into the opposition, who knows for how long. He is their collective punishment even though they don’t think they sinned.

Read Yossi Verter’s full analysis here

Knesset lawmakers will cast a vote of confidence on the Bennett-Lapid government on Sunday, followed by a swearing-in ceremony for the new government, Knesset Speaker Yariv Lavin announced.

These proceedings will follow a vote for the speaker of the 24th Knesset.

The Lapid-Bennett camp is required to release details of the coalition agreements on Friday, 24 hours before the ceremony, giving their opponents more time to apply pressure on lawmakers to vote against the government.

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Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett denied on Monday that he and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid were considering pursuing a law preventing someone who served as prime minister in the past eight years from being elected to the next Knesset. Because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already been elected to the current Knesset, the ramifications of such a law for him would be that if he brings down a Bennett-Lapid government sometime in the next four years, he will not be eligible to run in the following election.

“There is no, there never was, and there will be no agreement about preventing [someone from] running for the Knesset,” Bennett said. “This was a proposal that was raised, was not agreed upon, and will not be happening. The only thing that will happen and that was agreed is limiting the enture of a prime minister to eight years or two terms.”

Netanyahu’s Likud party seized on media reports that Bennett and Lapid were considering such a move in order to accuse Bennett of anti-democratic tendencies. “Bennett is turning Israel into a benighted dictatorship – North Korea meets Iran,” a Likud statement read. “Prime Minister Netanyahu fights Iran, and Bennett brings a law from Iran. This law will remove Israel from the society of enlightened democracies and put it among the darkest tyrannical regimes … Bennett is crossing every red line in his insane chase for the prime minister’s seat at any price.”

Clauses from the coalition agreements between the parties in the Bennett-Lapid government revealed on Monday that Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett will not necessarily be committed to agreements signed by Yesh Atid Leader Yair Lapid with other parties in the coalition.

For example, Yamina would not necessarily be obligated to a clause in the coalition agreement with Meretz that promises advancement on legislation advancing the standing of the LGBTQ community, or to repeal the Kaminetz Law as the United Arab List’s agreement stipulates. Both Bennett and Lapid, who will serve as alternate prime minister, will have veto power over any government decision.

The coalition agreements also preserve the Norwegian Law, allowing up to 26 ministers and deputies to step down from their role as Knesset members and allow other members of their parties to fill those seats. Parties with six seats will allow up to three lawmakers to resign. Parties with seven to nine seats will be able to have four members resign their Knesset seats, and parties with over ten can allow up to five members to resign. The security cabinet will include 12 members, with parity between the two blocs. The prime minister will determine the cabinet’s agenda.

The coalition agreement between Yamina and Yesh Atid will act as an umbrella agreement, which will obligate all the parties and will be added as an addendum to each of their individual coalition agreements. Clauses can be added to coalition agreements with the agreement of both Bennett and Lapid. All party leaders read and approved the agreements with all other party  members.

The far-right Religious Zionism party quickly condemned the agreements after their contents emerged. “Naftali Bennett has completely lost his senses morally,” a party statement read, which accused the Yamina chairman of aiming to become “an illegitimate prime minister with six seats.” The party claimed that the agreements “expose the liquidation sale of the Negev and the Galilee, damage to the state’s Jewish character and a severe perversion of democracy and the will of the people.” It was not too late, however, Religious Zionism argued, calling for “one hero with a moral compass and conscience to develop a moral spine and announce his opposition, and then instead of the establishment of a government by the bizarre left and terror supporters, a national government will be formed.”