Crisis on Hold: Jewish State Law Vote Deferred

As Avigdor Liberman tries to defuse crisis between prime minister and Hatnua, vote on disputed bill is postponed.

Hezki Baruch, Gil Ronen ,

Avigdor Liberman (file)
Avigdor Liberman (file)
Flash 90

The Coalition Management decided Monday to postpone by a week the Knesset plenum vote on two versions of the Jewish State bill, one of which was proposed by MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), and the other by MKs Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) and Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu).

The decision to defer the vote was reached after requests by Ilatov, who is the faction chairman of Yisrael Beytenu, and Shaked, faction chairwoman of Jewish Home.

The initiative for postponing the vote came from Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman, and is intended to make it possible to find a compromise regarding the bill, which is currently threatening to bring down the coalition.

Arutz Sheva has learned that members of the Jewish Home agreed to the postponement, saying that they had no doubt that the bill would pass if brought to a vote, but that it would be better to maintain the coalition whole and avoid early elections.

Hatnua faction chairman MK Meir Sheetrit said Monday that his faction did not ask for the delay – either directly or indirectly. “The different reports do not fit in with the truth,” he said.

Hurtling toward a crash

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition appeared to be hurtling toward a crash that could spell its end on Wednesday, as Netanyahu prepared to bring the Jewish State bill 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.

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.