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Monday, July 22, 2013

Err... Maybe we ought to have a coalition crisis after all

In a previous post, I criticized the Jewish Home party's plan to stay in the coalition for as long as possible while the government negotiates away Israel's strategic assets. I wasn't the only one who was critical. On Sunday afternoon, the Yesha Council, which Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett once served as Director General, met and was critical of Netanyahu's plan.
Following the meeting, the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip asked to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. It also plans to hold a joint meeting in the Knesset Tuesday with the Land of Israel parliamentary lobby group.
The council is operating under the assumption that three major points widely published in the media with regard to the talks are true: that they will be based on the pre-1967 lines; Palestinian prisoners will be released; and that there will be some form of a settlement freeze.
There is some speculation among settlers that Netanyahu might temporarily break the de facto freeze that exists on the publication of tenders for West Bank settlements, as a prelude to a more lasting freeze.
They have speculated that this break in the de facto freeze would be taken at the same time that Netanyahu announces plans to release Palestinian prisoners.
It goes without saying that everyone who was interviewed was opposed to making any concessions before the talks start....

After his number 2, Ayelet Shaked, said that the Jewish Home party will stay in the coalition 'as long as possible,' Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett thought better of it. He has decided to precipitate a coalition crisis.
The Bayit Yehudi will not support the budget unless the coalition passes the party's bill requiring a referendum on any peace agreement in which Israel gives up land, a senior party source said Monday.
Bayit Yehudi leader Economy Minister Naftali Bennett plans to call for a referendum in the party's faction meeting Monday afternoon.
Bennett told a senior party source earlier Monday that "this is a moral, principled demand. Our first goal is to prevent a rupture in the nation." The Bayit Yehudi source pointed out that the Referendum Bill, which would turn the existing referendum law into a Basic Law, is part of the party's coalition agreement.
Meanwhile, coalition officials are working on a way to start voting on the Referendum Bill as soon as possible and hope to call an emergency meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation as soon as Monday.
The move may face a dead end, however, because Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, the chairwoman of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, strongly opposes the Referendum Bill.
Without a budget, the coalition fails. The budget requires 61 votes (out of 120) to pass. The coalition has 68 members and Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) has 12 seats. You do the math.

In theory, Netanyahu could hand Livni an ultimatum, and if she withdraws from the coalition, he would still have 62 seats. But Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party is also opposed to the referendum, and they have 19 seats. JPost says that means that the bill doesn't have a majority within the coalition, but I think they're wrong on that. By my count, Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu (31) and Jewish Home (12) make 43, which is a majority. Don't expect that to happen. Livni is the darling of the Obama administration and Bibi would have hell to pay from Washington if he did that. And would Yesh Atid withdraw or vote against the coalition on the referendum if Bibi plays that trick?

Moreover, if Bayit Yehudi drops out, the Labor party would be more than  happy to drop in, and they also have 12 seats (I don't buy that story about them only being willing to come in to 'save peace' at the end). So assuming that Netanyahu can hold his own faction together by threatening their seats (which might not be so easy), Bennett's threat becomes meaningless.

But even if the referendum bill passes, it's meaningless unless you can control what question the referendum asks. If you did a referendum today saying "there ought to be a two-state solution," it will pass. It's only when you start asking specifics that many Israelis realize that we cannot live with a 'two-state solution.'


If Bennett doesn't find a way out of this, look for a big chunk of his voters to slam him for going in with Lapid and not with the Haredim.

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At 6:38 PM, Blogger mrzee said...

After the last referendum in Quebec regarding separation from Canada, the Federal government passed a law containg guidelines for the phrasing of any future referendum questions to remove any ambiguity about the results. Bennett should consider adding something like that to his bill.


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