Israel’s Knesset will convene to vote on approving the coalition government proposed by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid this coming Sunday, 13 June.
“It’s happening!” a jubilant Lapid posted on Twitter and Facebook, adding his thanks to Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin for setting the inauguration date.
“The unity government is on its way to benefit citizens of State of Israel,” he stated, adding that Yesh Atid Member of Knesset (MK) Karin Elharar would convey the date to the regulating committee to set the agenda, and that the coalition agreements will be guided by law.
According to the deal, Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, 49, would first serve as Prime Minister with Lapid, 57, as Alternate Premier until September 2023, after which they would rotate positions. The 2 leaders would head a 61 MK government with a razor-thin majority. 8 out of the overall 13 elected parties will serve in the government.
In the 23 March elections, Israel’s 4th in 2 years, the (centrist) Yesh Atid garnered 17 seats in the 120 member Knesset. Benny Gantz‘ (centrist) Blue & White has 8; the (nationalist, right-wing) Yamina, (secular, right-wing) Israel Beiteinu led by Avigdor Liberman, and (left-wing) Labor headed by Merav Michaeli hold 7 apiece; Gideon Saar’s New Hope (right-wing) and (left-wing) Meretz chaired by Nitzan Horowitz have 6 each; and the (Arab Islamist) United Arab List under Mansour Abbas has 4.
The new “government for change” has vowed to improve living conditions for all Israeli citizens of every ethnicity.
“The unity government that will be formed will focus in its actions on the civic and economic fields, in order to improve the welfare of Israeli citizens from all groups and sectors and will bring about within a short time from the date of its inauguration the approval of a state budget for the coming years,” read a just-released 30-clause charter, adding, “The government will work to mend the rifts between the various elements of Israeli society and to strengthen the foundations of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, and lead various programs aimed at getting the State of Israel out of the economic crisis.”
Failure to pass the long-overdue state budget was a major point of contention between Prime Minister and his former coalition partner, Alternate Premier and Defense Minister Gantz.
Major points of the deal that will form Israel’s 36th government:
(List courtesy of former MK and frequent TV7 guest, Rabbi Dov Lipman)
1) There will have 26 Ministers and 6 Deputy Ministers; divided evenly between right and center-left MKs.
2) Benny Gantz (current Defense Minister) and Gideon Sa’ar (former Justice Minister) will serve as Deputy Premiers.
3) Inclusion of any parties wishing to join the coalition after it has been sworn in would require consent by both Lapid and Bennett.
4) Lapid and Bennett will share veto power over any proposed legislation submitted to the Knesset.
5) The Security Cabinet will consist of 12 members, divided equally between the right and center-left
6) The “Norwegian Law” will be expanded to allow for parties with 6 MKs to have 3 Ministers or Deputy Ministers resign from the Knesset so the next people on their faction’s lists can enter as MK’s; while parties with 7-9 mandates can have 4 resign; and those with 9 seats and above will be permitted to have 5 resign.
7) A new law will be passed mandating that a prime minister has served 8 years in office, he/she must take 4 years off before running again.
8) The founding principles of the government include focus on the following:
– strengthening the middle class and independent business owners.
– reduction of government regulations and bureaucracy, including striving toward digitizing governance to eliminate lines and paperwork.
– lowering of housing costs.
– construction of a new hospital in the Negev and another in the Galilee regions.
– building of a new airport.
– bolstering of the police force and fighting crime in Arab cities.
– passage of the draft law submitted by the Defense Ministry in 2020 regarding military service by the ultra- Orthodox Jewish public, with increased civil service options.
– revamping the health system with concentration on mental health.
– greater care of the needs of Holocaust survivors and mental health of IDF veterans.
– increased development of Jerusalem, including the relocation of all government ministries to the capital.
– encouragement of more immigration and strengthening of ties between Israeli and Diaspora Jewry.
– healing division and wounds in Israeli society.
10) The deal with Yisrael Beiteinu includes government efforts toward creation of civil unions.
11) The deal with Labor includes the government work for “Jewish renewal” (meaning non-Orthodox streams).
12) The deal with Meretz includes advancement of rights for the LGBT community.
13) The deal with UAL includes a pause on enforcing illegal Arab construction until 2024 with no removal of illegal Arab construction in the Negev for 9 months; and the allotment of ₪500-million shekels (just over $154 million) for projects in the Arab sector overseen by the appointment of a Deputy Minister.
“This government will be good and it will last because it is based on the right things – on trust, on decency, on goodwill,” Lapid told a gathering of his faction yesterday.
Outgoing Prime Minister and right-wing Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who has condemned the nascent government that is poised to unseat him as “leftist” and “dangerous,” still has 5 days to persuade even 1 MK to leave the fragile coalition ahead of the Knesset vote.
Netanyahu has been Israel’s longest-serving Premier, in office for the last 12 consecutive years.
“We are witnessing the greatest election fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion in the history of any democracy,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.
“We, my friends and I in Likud, we will vehemently oppose the establishment of this dangerous government of fraud and surrender,” Netanyahu further vowed, stressing, “And if, God forbid, it is established, we will bring it down very quickly.”
If the Lapid-Bennett government fails to win the backing of a majority in parliament, the country will be forced into holding its 5th election since April 2019.