MK Nir Orbach (Yamina) has announced that he does not support the replacement of the Knesset Speaker, MK Yariv Levin (Likud) and is withdrawing his signature from the list of Yamina MKs which was submitted to the Knesset. According to a report by journalist Amit Segal, Orbach also clarified that he had not been consulted on whether he supported replacing the Speaker.
Orbach’s announcement is significant, as it deprives the bloc supporting the replacement of the Speaker of a majority, and therefore, Levin is not obligated to summon the Knesset into session in order to vote in a replacement.
On Thursday morning, the “bloc for change” submitted a demand to the Knesset secretariat that the election for a new Knesset Speaker be placed on the Knesset’s agenda for its coming session, which is scheduled for next Monday. Their petition also noted that, “MK Mickey Levy is the preferred candidate of the parties.”
61 signatures were appended to the petition, but with the withdrawal of Orbach’s signature, only 60 remain.
The United Arab List (UAL) had, until Wednesday, refrained from supporting the replacement of the Speaker, out of a desire to maintain cordial relations with the right-wing parties in case they did end up lending their support to a right-wing government. Ultimately, however, with the news that Yesh Atid chief MK Yair Lapid will be able to form a center-left coalition, the UAL decided to back the demand to replace Levin.
The UAL has emerged from coalition negotiations with a comprehensive package of benefits and proposals for legislation designed to benefit the party’s base, chiefly Bedouins in the Negev. They include 30 billion shekels for a plan to “integrate” the Bedouin sector; 20 billion shekels over 10 years to enhance infrastructure in the sector; and an extension of the freeze on enforcement against illegal Bedouin construction in the Negev. Lapid and Yamina chief MK Naftali Bennett have also agreed to legalize almost all of the Bedouin villages in the Negev region, and to market a huge number of housing units for that sector.