Two members of the coalition Arab Ra’am party lined up with the opposition Monday night to defeat 52 to 58 a critical motion for extending Israeli criminal law to Israelis living in Judea and Samara. Three Raam members were absent, as was Idit Silman, whose flight from PM Natali Bennett’s own Yamina party in April, left the eight-member coalition with parity of 60 with the opposition led by Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud.
While the Likud-led government itself ushered in the same law extension twice before, its MKs maintained now that toppling a bad government took precedence over essential legislation. If the June 30 deadline is missed, around half a million Israelis living over the Green Line will find their legal situation in chaos.
After Likud MKs called on Bennett to step down, he put a brave face on the debacle, promising victory in the “next round” in a few days’ time. The prime minister’s options include carrying on without the numbers for essential legislation; facing no-confidence votes; dissolving parliament and calling another election; or being pushed aside by an alternative government which the opposition will attempt to build by poaching for more defectors.