Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party on Monday lost control of Knesset’s critical Arrangements Committee which will now have a majority of members from the opposition.
Knesset voted against a Likud motion to lead the committee and accepted an opposing bill tabled by the centrist Yesh Atid party.
The Arrangements Committee is the first parliamentary committee to be formed after an election and controls the legislative agenda in the new parliament until the formation of a new government including determining what other parliamentary committees will be formed and their composition.
Likud's bid to head the committee was foiled by the Islamist Ra’am party which voted against the motion and threw its support behind Yesh Atid.
Netanyahu has been courting on Ra'am, expecting its leader Mansour Abbas would back the move and a new government under his leadership. Abbas declared he was willing to back any government that would address the urgent needs of Israel's Arab community.
But according to sources, Yair Lapid secured Abbas' support by promising him a seat in the coveted finance committee.
The far-right Religious Zionist party chief Bezalel Smotrich said Netanyahu was wrong to rely on the backing of "supporters of terrorism." Smotrich has persisted in his refusal to allow Netanyahu to form a government backed by Ra'am, thus leaving Netanyahu unable to form a coalition government.
Yesh Atik MK Meir Cohen said it was time to turn Knesset's attention away from political bickering and address the needs of the Israeli public.
The bloc of parties opposed to a Netanyahu-led government will now turn its sights on the position of Knesset speaker to solidify its hold over the parliament.