Ayelet Shaked (l) and Idit Silman (r)
Ayelet Shaked (l) and Idit Silman (r)צילום: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party is gearing up for Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s possible departure from politics as part of a plea bargain – a situation which could put pressure on coalition members to form a new government with a post-Netanyahu Likud.

According to a report by Kan Tuesday morning, Yamina is considering recruiting new coalition members – including poaching MKs from the Likud.

As part of the plan, Yamina is reportedly considering legislation that would lower the threshold for small groups of MKs to break away from their party without facing sanctions. The bill in question would allow groups as small as four MKs to receive recognition as a new faction in the Knesset, rather than the one-third requirement currently in place, which sanctions ‘rogue’ MKs who break away from their party if less than one-third of the party join the split.

Yamina officials cited in Tuesday’s report said that by bringing in Likud MKs to the coalition, the United Arab List (Ra’am) would lose its de facto veto within the government.

On Monday, Netanyahu instructed his attorneys to move forward with talks with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit towards a plea bargain, despite opposition from Netanyahu’s family.

Currently, Mandelblit is insisting that Netanyahu resign from the Knesset prior to his conviction under a plea bargain arrangement, and also that Netanyahu’s conviction be designated moral turpitude, thus imperiling a possible future return to politics.

Should Netanyahu resign from the Knesset as part of such a plea bargain arrangement, the Likud could make a bid to form a new government with center-right factions who cited Netanyahu’s presence at the helm of the Likud in their refusal to work with the party previously.

Alternatively, the primary elections within the Likud, which are expected to take place should Netanyahu resign, could divide the Likud, creating an opportunity for the Bennett government to lure MKs to the coalition.