Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yamina MK Nir Orbach and Yamina chief Naftali Bennett
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yamina MK Nir Orbach and Yamina chief Naftali Bennett
Photo: AFP, Yoav Dudkevtich, Alex Kolomoisky
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yamina MK Nir Orbach and Yamina chief Naftali Bennett

Joint List backs move to replace Knesset speaker, paving way for vote on new government

All 6 members of the predominantly Arab party sign request asking to replace Yariv Levin; Yamina MK Nir Orbach also rebuffs Netanyahu efforts to woo him away from party

Moran Azualy |
Published: 06.03.21 , 15:42
The Joint List party on Wednesday backed a request for Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin to hold a vote on his replacement as soon as possible.
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  • All six members of the predominantly Arab party supported the call for the vote that was initiated by the newly formed coalition under Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett and would pave the way for the Knesset to approve the new government as soon as possible.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yamina MK Nir Orbach and Yamina chief Naftali Bennett
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yamina MK Nir Orbach and Yamina chief Naftali Bennett
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yamina MK Nir Orbach and Yamina chief Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: AFP, Yoav Dudkevtich, Alex Kolomoisky)
    Likud lawmaker Levin had been expected to delay the Knesset vote on the new government for as long as legally possible, thereby giving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more time to try to break up the alliance against him.
    Installing a new Knesset speaker from the nascent coalition would mean a vote on the new government could take place as soon as Monday.
    Earlier Thursday, Bennett met with Yamina MK Nir Orbach, whose reluctance to back the move to oust Levin threatened an expedited vote on the new government.
    Orbach, however, told Bennett that he would do everything in his power to facilitate the new coalition and informed Netanyahu that he was not interested in his overtures.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    ניר אורבך יוצא מביתו של נפתלי בנט ברעננה
    ניר אורבך יוצא מביתו של נפתלי בנט ברעננה
    Orbach leaves his home earlier on Thursday
    (Photo: Orel Cohen)
    That was the second time Bennett has met with Orbach in the past 24 hours. The two also met overnight Thursday after all elements of the so-called "bloc for change" had agreed on a coalition deal, with Bennett trying to dissuade Orbach from actively voting against such a government.
    Orbach has reportedly been avoiding calls from Prime Minister Netanyahu since Wednesday night.
    Hours after Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid announced to President Reuven Rivlin he had managed to form a government, "bloc for change" members submitted their signatures Thursday morning to replace Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin in a bid to fast-track the swearing-in of the government.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    יריב לוין
    יריב לוין
    Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    Fearing he'll try to block the Knesset vote to inaugurate the prospected government, giving Netanyahu almost two more weeks to try and break the bloc apart, the government-in-waiting sought to replace Levin — a senior member of the ruling Likud party and a confidant of Netanyahu — with Yesh Atid MK Mickey Levy.
    However, Orbach withdrew his signature from the petition Thursday morning, putting the motion in jeopardy.
    Meanwhile, the Likud leader slammed Naftali Bennett in a post on Twitter Thursday, accusing him of "selling out" the Negev to the Islamist Ra'am party.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    ישיבת סיעה רע"מ
    ישיבת סיעה רע"מ
    Ra'am party leader Mansour Abbas
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    "All legislators elected by votes from the right must oppose this dangerous left-wing government," Netanyahu said.
    In response, Yamina posted a chart claiming Netanyahu had himself offered Ra'am even more far-reaching concessions to entice the party to join his coalition.
    Netanyahu Thursday called together a meeting with faction leaders of his right-wing bloc, among other prominent right-wing leaders, to devise a strategy on how to thwart a Bennett-Lapid government, mounting pressure on the right-flank of the "bloc for change" through rabbis, activists and close associates.
    The right-wing bloc and other affiliated organizations are also planning to hold Thursday evening a massive rally outside the Tel Aviv home of Yamina No. 2 Ayelet Shaked under the banner: "Return home."
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    ההפגנה מול ביתה של שקד
    ההפגנה מול ביתה של שקד
    Anti-'coalition for change' protestors outside the Tel Aviv home of Ayelet Shaked Wednesday
    (Photo: Dana Kopel)
    A massive rally organized by the ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties was also in the cards.
    Also Thursday, Bennett was extended full Shin Bet protection — usually only reserved for acting prime minister — after he received threats on his life.
    Though his position has not yet been finalized, sources familiar with the decision said the agency decided to begin protecting Bennett over fears that anger at him from some parts of the political right could lead to attempts on his life.
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