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Joint List chief won’t commit to toppling ‘bad government’ with no-confidence vote

As the coalition teeters without a majority in Knesset, Odeh say his party will not partner with the opposition if it means cooperating with ‘dangerous’ Netanyahu

MK Ayman Odeh (left), head of the Joint List, and MK Ahmad Tibi attend a faction meeting, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Ayman Odeh (left), head of the Joint List, and MK Ahmad Tibi attend a faction meeting, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The head of the Joint List party would not commit Saturday to joining any possible vote of no-confidence to bring down the government if it means helping opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu.

MK Ayman Odeh said it is still too early to talk about dispersing the Knesset, despite the government having lost its narrow majority in the parliament last week when MK Idit Silman, a member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s own Yamina party, quit the coalition.

With the coalition now holding just half of the Knesset seats, Netanyahu’s Likud is seeking to gain enough lawmakers to support a no-confidence vote, triggering fresh elections. As a result, the Joint List, with six seats, could find itself holding the balance of power.

Though Odeh said the current coalition is “a bad right-wing government” that is harming Arab Israelis, he stressed that Netanyahu is not a viable alternative in his view.

“If anyone thinks we will partners with Netanyahu for a constructive vote of no-confidence — no way,” Odeh said during an interview with Channel 12 news.

“We are the furthest from Likud — that is what we were, what we will remain — especially with the Likud of today with Benjamin Netanyahu,” he said. “I think that Netanyahu is the most dangerous person in the country.”

Odeh noted that “no one has approached us” from the government in the wake of the recent developments.

Asked if fellow joint list member MK Ahmad Tibi could decide to vote to bring down the government, Odeh insisted that none of his party’s faction will break ranks.

“All six members of the Joint List are united,” he said.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks with MK Idit Silman at the Knesset in Jerusalem, January 5, 2022 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

MK Mansour Abbas, who leads Ra’am, an Arab Islamist party that is in the coalition, told Channel 12 that his faction will not be persuaded to defect to the coalition.

“I will not let this government fall apart, even if I get a commitment from Netanyahu.” Abbas said.

Silman announced Wednesday that she was quitting the government due to the “harming” of Jewish identity in Israel, robbing the coalition of its one-seat majority.

Silman said she would work to establish a right-wing coalition in the current Knesset, but denied reports that she has struck a deal to join Likud. She also claimed that the current coalition had offered to give her the post of health minister to win back her support, which she said she rejected.

The coalition — an unlikely alliance of eight disparate parties — has been scrambling to keep other possible renegades in line and project stability, even as it teeters on the brink of collapse following Silman’s departure.

With Silman exiting the coalition but not the Knesset, Bennett’s government holds just 60 of 120 seats. The paths forward for the coalition and the Knesset are not immediately clear, with a new election seen as the most likely outcome, but the timeline still uncertain.

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