A pair of Likud lawmakers said the opposition should feel comfortable about voting against legislation that benefits disadvantaged populations in order to achieve the greater goal of bringing down the government, in leaked recordings published Monday.
The recordings aired on Channel 12 news came from a closed-door faction meeting last week that the Likud party held to discuss how its members would vote on a popular coalition bill aimed at covering two-thirds of the college tuition costs for combat veterans. The bill, amended at the last minute to raise the coverage to 75%, passed early Tuesday morning, with the amendment prompting Likud and much of the opposition to stay away from the vote rather than oppose it.
“We decided as a party that we’re going to be a fighting opposition and that we want to bring down this government,” Miri Regev could be heard saying at last week’s meeting. “So there is no queasiness [when voting against] the disabled, and there is no queasiness with cases of rape, and no queasiness with battered women, and no queasiness with soldiers, because we all understand that this is the rationale.”
Yuval Steinitz then chimed in, arguing that backing the bill for combat veterans would lead to further cooperation with the coalition on other bills. “Tomorrow it’ll be widows, orphans, the periphery, a million and one disabled people, the sick, the elderly and Holocaust survivors, everything.”
Coalition lawmakers were quick to respond to the leaked recordings, saying they exposed the cruelty of the opposition.
“This is not a fighting opposition. This is an oppressive opposition. [They are] simply the oppressors of Israel,” Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted Monday.
“Let the country burn — 2022 version,” added Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party.
While several members of Likud initially expressed their support for the soldier scholarship bill, the party subsequently rallied around the position of chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, who maintained that it was more important to prevent the coalition from securing any parliamentary victories. Likud then conditioned its support on the bill covering 100 percent of the tuition funds for soldiers, instead of the two-thirds proposed in the bill. (The scholarship program had hitherto been privately funded.)
That stance was maintained until after midnight on Monday when, just before a vote on the legislation was held, Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that he was prepared to meet Likud halfway and alter the bill so it covered 75% of tuition costs for combat veterans.
Netanyahu’s party agreed to waive their opposition, and the law soon afterward.