Following its embarrassing loss of a key vote on Monday evening (the Judea & Samaria law), the coalition has come under increasing pressure to tighten its ranks, with little sign that it is actually able to do so. Although it was New Hope leader Gideon Sa'ar who stated bluntly prior to the vote that its failure to pass would sound the death knell for the government, focus has now turned not to Sa'ar but to Yamina's Nir Orbach. Will he be the one to tip the balance?
According to a report in Yediot Aharonot on Wednesday morning, Orbach, seen as intensely loyal to party leader and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, has reached a critical mass of frustration at the current situation and is now actively "preparing the ground for an alternative government within the current Knesset."
Quoting unnamed sources, the report describes Orbach's anger at rebel Knesset members Mazen Ghanaim (Ra'am) and Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi (Meretz) for voting againt the Judea & Samaria law. Thus far, Orbach's public ire has been directed at Ra'am - in the immediate aftermath of the failed vote, he angrily exploded at Ghanaim and called the partnership with Ra'am a "failed experiment that is now over."
Supposedly, Orbach now sees the coalition as teetering on the brink of disaster, and the only reason why he has yet to jump ship is his personal loyalty to Bennett - but there is another factor, and that is Orbach's alignment with fellow party members Ayelet Shaked and Abir Kara.
Shaked, Kara, and Orbach have been coordinating their moves ever since Idit Silman bolted the coalition, primarily, it is thought, in order to secure plum positions for all three in the event that an alternative government is formed. Orbach is therefore now being pulled in several directions - toward the government, by Yamina party members, each for his own reasons - and toward the opposition, which sees him as the next potential defector and the final nail in the government's coffin.
"These are the death throes of the coalition that we're seeing now," one of Yediot's unnamed sources, described as a "senior government official," said. "The government may last out the summer session, but it can no longer function."