Rabbi Rafi Peretz
Rabbi Rafi Peretz Miki Lengental

The Knesset Committee is to meet on Tuesday of next week to rule on MK Rafi Peretz request to formally recognize his party's split from the Yamina faction.

The meeting may determine Peretz's political future, although irrespective of the outcome of the ruling, it will likely go to the Supreme Court for a final decision.

After the 35th Knesset came into being following a third consecutive election in under a year, Peretz jolted the religious Zionist Yamina coalition to join the government as Minister of Jerusalem Affairs.

Although according to protocol, Rabbi Peretz should have asked the Knesset Committee to recognize his party's split from the faction, he failed to do so. Instead, after coming on board the newly-formed unity government, Peretz has remained a member of the Yamina faction while not necessarily voting in accordance with party guidelines.

The issue was thrust into the limelight only after Mishmar HaDemocratia HaYisraelit (Israel Democracy Watch) petitioned the Supreme Court to have Peretz thrown out of the Knesset.

The group claims Peretz should not be allowed to serve as a Knesset minister since his departure from Yamina was never formalized.

It further alleges that while Peretz's break with Yamina created a de facto split, he never formally broke away from the party, making him a rogue MK who should be penalized with parliamentary restrictions.

Peretz will likely pass the legal hurdle, with the coalition expected to come to his support.

If he does, however, Israel Democracy Watch is expected to petition the Supreme Court to rule that Peretz's request for a split with Yamina was filed late. If the petition goes through, he will be forced to give up his ministerial position, in effect, bringing his political career to a close.

The fact that Peretz failed to vote in accordance with Yamina positions for a number of months, submitting the official request for a split only after the petition's filing, is likely to influence the judges' decision against him. Yamina's failure to petition the Knesset committee against Peretz, probably as a result of the faction continuing to receive funding as a result of his ministerial post, may end up aiding his cause.