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‘Pull yourself together!’ Netanyahu scolds coalition partners amid revolt against ultra-Orthodox legislation

Likud hints Ben Gvir is leaking state secrets, Likud members pull support for bills

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video message, June 19, 2024. (Photo: Screenshot/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday harshly criticized members of his government coalition for endangering the government’s stability in wartime over their refusal to support two controversial Knesset bills.

“We are fighting on several fronts and face great challenges and difficult decisions. Therefore, I demand that all coalition partners pull themselves together and rise to the importance of the hour,” Netanyahu said in a video message.

“This is not the time for petty politics, this is not the time for legislation that endangers the coalition which is fighting for victory over our enemies,

“This is not the time for petty politics, this is not the time for legislation that endangers the coalition which is fighting for victory over our enemies…Therefore, I demand that everyone put aside every other consideration. Put aside all extraneous interests. Line up, as one, together, behind our fighters,” he added.

The latest chaos in the coalition centers around the lack of support for two bills currently being advanced, which the ultra-Orthodox parties in the Knesset view as conditions for continuing their support of the government.

One was a bill regulating the appointment of municipal rabbis, which was being advanced by the Shas party but was dropped after several Likud Knesset members and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s Jewish Power party publicly declared they wouldn’t support it.

After the bill's failure, an unnamed Shas official told KAN News: “The complete dissolution of the coalition is only a matter of time.”

Netanyahu and Ben Gvir have been sparring publicly in recent weeks after the prime minister refused to give him Benny Gantz’s vacated seat on the War Cabinet, choosing to dissolve it altogether.

Israeli media reported that Netanyahu offered to include Ben Gvir in sensitive security briefings if he supported the municipal rabbis’ bill.

Following reports allegedly based on unauthorized leaks, Likud released a statement condemning Ben Gvir as untrustworthy.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu told Minister Ben Gvir one simple thing: Whoever wants to be a partner in a limited security consultation team must prove that he is not leaking state secrets or private conversations,” the statement read.

Ben Gvir has often been accused of leaking confidential information to the press and not following security protocols at sensitive meetings, including by the National Security Council.

Jewish Power, in turn, announced it would support a bill to require cabinet members to undergo polygraph tests, “provided that it also applies to those with pacemakers,” a barely veiled insult of Netanyahu, who underwent surgery to receive a pacemaker last July.

The other legislation causing a mini-revolt in the coalition is the controversial Haredi draft bill.

After Defense Minister Yoav Gallant decided not to support the coalition’s move to apply “continuity” and revive a bill from the last Knesset meeting, which is currently making its way through the legislative process, Economy Minister and Likud member Nir Barkat also announced he would not support the bill.

Barkat said he told Netanyahu that he “together with additional Likud MKs” would not support the current text of the bill, insisting it must undergo "fundamental changes" before being brought up for further votes in the Knesset plenum.

“In order to win the war, the IDF needs more soldiers,” Barkat stated, describing his vote to revive the bill as only “technical” and listing several conditions for supporting it in the future.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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