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2 Joint List MKs may abstain to ensure majority for new government — report

Ta’al faction said to be waiting until last minute to see whether or not it should vote against the incoming coalition

Knesset Members Osama Saadi and Ahmad Tibi attend a Knesset committee meeting on September 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Knesset Members Osama Saadi and Ahmad Tibi attend a Knesset committee meeting on September 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The two members of the Ta’al faction within the Joint List party may abstain from Sunday’s vote of confidence in the incoming coalition, if it forecasts a majority for those voting against the new government, according to a Saturday television report.

The two members, Ahmed Tibi and Osama Saadi, are said to be waiting until the last minute to decide whether or not to vote against the so-called “change government” or abstain, according to a Channel 12 news report.

If the Ta’al lawmakers see the opposition to the incoming coalition has a majority in the swearing-in vote, they will abstain, allowing the government to be formed. If, however, there no surprises, they’ll oppose the new government. Currently, the new government is believed to have the support of 61 of the Knesset’s 120 lawmakers.

The remaining four of the six MKs in the majority-Arab Joint List party will vote against the formation of a unity government led by Yamina chair Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on Sunday, even though it would oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power.

(L-R) Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Yamina chair Naftali Bennett, New Hope chair Gideon Sa’ar, Blue and White head Benny Gantz, Ra’am chair Mansour Abbas, Labor head Merav Michaeli and Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz at a meeting of the heads of the would-be-coalition in Tel Aviv, June 6, 2021. (Ra’anan Cohen)

The Joint List is an alliance made up of Tibi’s Ta’al, the hardline Balad and the leftist communist Hadash. Ra’am was also part of the alliance until quitting it in January ahead of the March election, amid disagreements over Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas’s plans to negotiate with Netanyahu and others on potentially joining the government. Ra’am is poised to enter the new coalition, becoming the first Arab party in Israel’s history to do so.

The “change government,” an unlikely alliance of right-wing, left-wing, centrist, and Islamist parties, finalized and signed coalition agreements Friday, paving the way for the 61-strong coalition to be sworn in on Sunday, ending Netanyahu’s 12-year term in office.

The intended Lapid-Bennett government is backed by eight of the 13 parties that won seats in the March 23 election, for an expected total of 61 votes in the 120-member Knesset: Yesh Atid (17 seats), Blue and White (8), Yisrael Beytenu (7), Labor (7), Yamina (6 of its 7 MKs), New Hope (6), Meretz (6) and Ra’am (4).

Despite Ta’al’s reported backup plan, it is widely expected that all 61 members will vote in favor of the incoming government.

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