Yamina MK Abir Kara said Friday that his fellow faction member Idit Silman had “fallen into a trap” by resigning from the coalition last week, appearing to further backpedal after reportedly mulling a similar move to destabilize the government.
Silman shook up the political arena last week with her surprise decision to leave the governing coalition headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, insisting that she and others could join the opposition to form a replacement government headed by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
Among those who also met with members of the opposition was Kara, who was widely thought to be seriously considering jumping ship.
But on Friday he posted a message to Yamina activists saying that Silman had been hoodwinked and there was no possible alternate coalition, only the possible collapse of the coalition and new elections.
“I must tell the truth: Likud does not have an alternative government in this Knesset,” he said, adding that he had “sent” Silman and Amichai Chikli — another Yamina MK who refused to join the coalition when it was formed last June — to probe whether any other options exist. “So far, it seems that the only option is to go back to the polls.”
Kara acknowledged that Silman had been put under immense “pressure, slander, cursing and demonstrations” from surrogates of the Likud and Religious Zionism opposition parties, which ultimately led her to “surrender” by leaving the coalition, robbing it of its razor-thin majority in the Knesset.
Silman, the former coalition whip, said the move was motivated by her right-wing ideology, saying the broad-based coalition had failed to safeguard the Jewish character of the state. But she reportedly also received promises of a reserved spot on Likud’s electoral list and a future stint as health minister — both of which she denies.
Kara acknowledged that the coalition would likely find it difficult to hold on to power with only 60 of the Knesset’s 120 seats. The opposition is divided between a Netanyahu-led camp and the Arab-led Joint List party, which comprises six seats but has refused to commit to toppling the government or backing a new one. Netanyahu would need several more MKs to jump ship to the opposition to have a shot at replacing the government without forcing the country into new elections.
“We might end up there in the end,” Kara said of the possibility of a fifth round of elections since 2020. “I will exhaust every effort to prevent this from happening,” he continued, saying another election would prevent the government from following through on reforms to lower the cost of living and benefit various sectors including the self-employed and hospital interns, causes he has championed.
Forming a new government within the current Knesset — without an election — would require several additional members of the coalition to defect, potentially from the right-wing Yamina or New Hope. The opposition has been ramping up efforts over the past week to convince some members of the coalition to follow Silman’s lead.
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that the current political crisis is “under control,” maintaining that efforts are ongoing to ensure that the government remains in power.
“If we operate correctly, this government will be here both next Passover and the one after. It will not be easy, but it will happen,” said Lapid at a faction meeting.
But on Friday, Ra’am MK Mazen Ghnaim threatened to quit the coalition over clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at the Temple Mount. The party called the issue a “red line.”
Lapid maintained that relations within the coalition are good, adding that he prefers “ideological differences over people dealing in corruption,” a reference to Netanyahu, on trial for graft, and opposition party grandees Aryeh Deri and Yaakov Litzman, both of whom recently pleaded out in their own graft cases.
Under the current coalition agreement, if the government falls — with more than two votes from within the Bennett-aligned bloc — and Israel heads to a new election, Lapid automatically becomes prime minister during the interim period.