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Likud, Blue and White avoid coalition crisis by voting against promises

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz pass each other in the Knesset last year.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The votes come as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz disagree over whether to pass a two-year budget or a separate budget for each year.

Likud and Blue and White voted on Wednesday against bills they had supported in their campaigns, in order to keep their coalition alive and avoid another crisis that could escalate tension between the sides and topple the government. 
Blue and White opposed opposition leader Yair Lapid’s bill to open a commission of inquiry into the “Submarines Affair,” and Likud voted down Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked’s bill to regulate the separation of powers between the Knesset and the judiciary, including an “override clause” to allow the Knesset overturn High Court of Justice decisions with a 61-MK majority.

The votes against policies the parties long and openly supported come as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz disagree over whether to pass a two-year budget, covering 2021 and the rest of 2020, which Gantz favors, or a separate budget for each year, which Netanyahu prefers. If no budget or bill to postpone approving a budget is passed by August 25, an election will automatically be triggered.
Coalition chairman Miki Zohar instructed Likud MKs to leave the plenum during a vote on Shaked’s bill.
“The Likud will not vote in favor of the override clause. We will be absent from the voting,” Zohar wrote on Twitter. “After checking, it was clear that the vote against the bill (about which there are more than a few disputes on the Right) would certainly bring about an election.”
Likud MKs decided to skip the vote “out of a real will to try to stabilize the coalition and prevent an election.”
During the triple election cycle, Likud MKs repeatedly spoke in favor of an override bill, out of their general opposition to judicial activism.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted in 2019 that the “balance [between the Knesset and the judiciary] is necessary to pass laws that were disqualified or delayed in the past. These are bills that the public expects us to pass: Deporting terrorists’ families, death penalty for terrorists and the law to remove infiltrators. I am determined to act fearlessly for you, citizens of Israel. That is why you voted for me.”
Lawmakers from Shas and UTJ have also supported an override clause in the past, but Interior Minister Arye Deri said earlier this week that his party will vote against Shaked’s bill in order to keep the unity coalition together.
Blue and White voted against Lapid’s bill to establish a commission of inquiry into “the purchase of ships and submarines for the navy.”
Yesh Atid-Telem MK Moshe Ya’alon addressed Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, with whom his party ran in one list in the last three elections, in his presentation of the bill: “I have expectations from Gantz and Ashkenazi, because they know this matter up close.”
Lapid said: “The two IDF chiefs of staff in the relevant period, Gantz and Ashkenazi, explained to me and you and all of Israel that we must have a commission of inquiry to investigate the submarines because there is no other way we’re learning or know why the prime minister authorized Egypt buying submarines from Germany...[and] how all the rules of security purchasing were broken.”
In a campaign speech in 2019, Gantz said that three IDF chiefs of staff - himself, Ashkenazi and Ya’alon - “it was hidden from us in advance that the prime minister received money. NIS 16m went into Netanyahu’s pocket from a company directly connected to the submarines deal...We will not rest until this truth comes to light. Every Israeli citizen deserves leadership with values.”
Later Wednesday, Netanyahu will have to attend a special hearing in the Knesset plenum at the request of 40 opposition MKs. The prime minister will have to listen to them for an hour and then respond to them. The special hearing, which will focus on the socioeconomic situation, was initiated by the Meretz faction.

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