All Israel

Will the Israeli government fall, limp to the finish line or pave the way for the return of Netanyahu?

The next days and next moves by Israeli politicians will be critical to determine the government's next steps forward

Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Likud party meeting at the Knesset, Feb. 28, 2022. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

One Knesset member’s shock decision this morning that she will no longer vote with the coalition has cast a shadow of uncertainty over the government.

Coalition chairwoman, Idit Silman, injected high stakes drama and serious rumblings into Israel's political sphere today with her announcement.

But it is still too early to know exactly how this plays out. If nothing else happens – if no other coalition members defect – the coalition can survive, but it will take each of the 60 members to withstand what will likely be strong invitations to join other parties.

So now, while the coalition no longer has a majority, neither does the opposition.

However, Silman’s action destabilized an already fragile coalition comprised of eight widely disparate parties – far right, far left and Muslim – which were made it already hard enough to unite for a vote.

Nevertheless, here are two possible scenarios. The first contains high drama: Silman’s announcement could prompt other defections as more Knesset coalition members jockey for position to secure their place in another party. Then the government likely collapses and the country goes to new elections.

Then there is the other extreme: nothing happens. The government continues moving forward at 60-60 voting, but no legislation is passed. Naftali Bennett remains prime minister over a hobbled government and passes the baton to alternate-Prime Minister Yair Lapid in 2023 to finish out the term.

The big speculation now is whether any of these scenarios pave the way for the return of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lead the nation.

If the opposition absorbs enough defectors, it can pass a bill dispersing the Knesset taking Israel to a new election. As opposition leader, Netanyahu is presumably interested in that scenario.

And he has already hit the campaign trail.

Netanyahu appeared tonight at a right-wing rally in Jerusalem and gave a rousing speech to his supporters gathered there.

Earlier in the day he spoke at the Knesset and said the government’s “days are numbered.”

“Today, Israel has a weak government. Its days are numbered,” he said.

He appealed to other coalition Knesset members to “come home.”

“We are waiting for you. We will welcome you with honor and appreciation. You can secure your place [in heaven] with a single move that will save the State of Israel from this weak government,” he said. “We will establish a government that will defeat terror, stop Iran from going nuclear, that will lower taxes raised by this current government; a government that will fight crime and violence in Arab communities, and that will make sure to incorporate every Israeli citizen into the Israeli success story.”

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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