PM: Work together to stop crazy, destructive Override Clause

Lapid urges united opposition in face of emerging coalition’s ‘madness’

Outgoing PM urges allied parties to work together to ‘defend Israeli democracy,’ tells them to learn about cooperation from the united front presented by ‘toxic’ Netanyahu-led bloc

Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks in the plenum hall of the Knesset, in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks in the plenum hall of the Knesset, in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday called on the various parties heading into the opposition to set aside their differences and work together in what he described as a struggle for the future of Israeli democracy.

Lapid was defeated in elections last week by Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu and his bloc of right-wing and religious parties, including the far-right Religious Zionism alliance, which contains the extremist Otzma Yehudit and Noam factions.

“We are embarking on a parliamentary, legal and civic struggle, and most of all a fateful struggle for the future of the country,” Lapid wrote in a statement. “Energy must not be wasted on internal quarrels. If we want to stop the madness, the opposition needs to work together in full coordination.”

“If we want to stop the crazy and destructive Override Clause, we need to work together,” he said, referring to a proposed bill that would enable the Knesset to pass legislation even if it had been struck down by the High Court as violating the country’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws. Some of Netanyahu’s prospective ultra-Orthodox and far-right partners have said they won’t join him in a government without commitment to passing the so-called Override Clause.

“If we want to defend Israeli democracy and prevent religious coercion and the exclusion of women, we need to work together,” Lapid implored. “If we want to return to power, we must work together.”

The prime minister also hinted at animosity among his former coalition partners in the wake of defeat at the polls. The Labor party has accused him of a selfish campaign strategy that built up his Yesh Atid party at the expense of Labor and the left-wing Meretz party, which was pushed below the threshold and out of the Knesset.

“After a loss in the elections there is always fallout, there is always anger,” Lapid wrote. “It’s human and understandable, but we have a much more important mission. We must join forces in the fight for our beloved country. In the Knesset, in the streets, in all possible arenas.”

Even before the elections, Lapid and National Union party leader Defense Minister Benny Gantz had vied with each other over who had the better shot at forming the next government.

Lapid said that lessons could be learned from the way the opposition acted during the last government, when it presented a unified policy of systematically voting against coalition on bills, including those it ideologically supported.

“It was toxic and violent, but it was fully coordinated,” he said of the opposition under Netanyahu.

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu arrives coalition talks with his political allies, in Jerusalem, November 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud has taken much criticism for embracing far-right parties harboring extreme stances that go far beyond its own positions, including unequal treatment for Jews and Arabs, deportation for “disloyal” citizens and constraining LGBT rights.

President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday began formal consultations with all parties in the Knesset to hear their recommendations for who should form the next government. Netanyahu has the support of parties holding 64 seats in the 120-seat Knesset and is expected to be tasked with the job.

Gantz’s party, National Unity, told Herzog it would remain in the opposition and declined to recommend any candidate to form the next government, saying that presumptive incoming prime minister Netanyahu would lead a bad government and that current prime minister Lapid lacks the numbers to do so.

In what is largely regarded as a symbolic move, Yesh Atid recommended party leader Lapid as the candidate to form the next government.

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