Wednesday's Vote Set to Derail Coalition

Tzipi Livni vows to fight the Jewish State bill and may vote against it – forcing Netanyahu to fire her. Yair Lapid has vowed to vote 'nay.'

Gil Ronen,

Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition is hurtling toward a crash that could spell its end on Wednesday, as Netanyahu prepares to bring the Jewish State law to a Knesset vote.

At Netanyahu's insistence, the government decided Sunday that all coalition MKs – including ministers – will be bound by coalition discipline in the vote, and must vote in favor of it.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who heads Hatnua, a coalition partner with 6 MKs, is adamantly opposed to the bill.

In an interview with Channel 2 Sunday evening, Livni said: “I will not lend a hand to this bill. It's a bad, anti-Zionist, anti-democratic law which is contrary to the Declaration of Independence. I will not be a partner of it in any way, shape or form. If the prime minister decides to dismiss ministers who are fighting for a Jewish-democratic Israel, that can certainly be his decision. I have never given up on my principles," she added.

Asked if she intends to vote against the law or just abstain from voting, she did not give a clear-cut answer. “I am thinking of voting nay and certainly will not let the law pass, insofar as this depends on me,” she said. “I am not winking, I will not allow this proposal to pass by being in the restroom [during the vote]. I have never acted this way and I will not do so now.”

Livni did not rule out that Netanyahu purposely brought the bill to a vote in the government because he is sick of her behavior as a coalition partner. “This is possible,” she admitted. “If that is the case, I believe in the need to say the truth. Why take the thing that is most important to all of us and use it to hint to one of the coalition partners that you are tired of him? That is what I really found sad, in the government session.

"The decision is still in his hands,” she said of Netanyahu. “He knows what our position is. It's too bad that instead of advancing what he believes in, he follows a radical and anti-democratic group inside Likud.”

Lapid: we'll vote against the bill

Finance Minister Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, declared on Sunday night that his party will vote against the Jewish State Bill when it comes to a vote in the Knesset. 

"Yesh Atid and I are not against the Jewish State Law but do not support it in the form in which it was submitted," Lapid said in a speech before the academic business club at the  Tel Aviv University.

He added that the bill, which was submitted by MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), places the concept of a Jewish state ahead of the concept of a democratic state.

“Ben-Gurion would not have approved this law, and neither would have Menachem Begin and Jabotinsky. It is an anti-democratic law,” declared Lapid.

The bill earlier on Sunday passed a crucial cabinet vote, with 15 votes for and six against.

With polls giving Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home party nearly as many MKs as Netanyahu's Likud, pundits are predicting that following new elections, Bennett will be Netanyahu's senior partner and be tapped for Minister of Defense.

There have also been rumors of Likud and Jewish Home running together in a joint list, although this is highly unlikely. A similar move by Likud and Yisrael Beytenu in the last elections wound up damaging both parties electorally, and no senior officials from either party have indicated such a move is even on the table.




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