Bennett Coalition to Deal with Post-Budget Clashes

Over the weekend, the MK’s in the governing coalition of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett celebrated the approval of the 2021 and 2022 state budgets, but there will soon be internal disputes due to disagreements over a number of sensitive issues that were postponed. On Saturday night in their joint conference, both Lapid and Bennett declined to talk about the key issues and only stated that a meeting of party leaders would be conducted soon for resolving them. However, on Sunday night, sources close to both Bennett and Lapid said that there wasn’t a timetable established for such a meeting and they were not in a hurry to have it.

A Lapid associate said that there wasn’t any specific timing for the meeting and they would consider every issue on its own. But, sources of other parties in the coalition said that they would insist for a meeting to ensure there is appropriate give and take for every coalition party to claim they have accommodated their voters. The first disputes that have emerged post-budget are over settlements. Bennett was criticized by the Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev of the Labor Party regarding the issue of Evyatar outpost. Bennett was also warned by Meretz MKs Gabi Laski and Mossi Raz that building plans of Construction Minister Ze’ev Elkin in the Jordan Valley went beyond their red line.

Labor wants to see a change in the preferred communities list of the Finance Ministry, as it wants to take out wealthy communities in Samaria and Judea and add more communities in the Negev and Galilee for receiving special benefits. Both Bennett and Lapid had also dismissed the possibility of the US reopening its Jerusalem consulate that had been closed by President Donald Trump that served the Palestinian Authority and this was concerning to some Meretz MKs. 

There are some issues over which Bennett is still undecided and this includes the investigation into the submarine affair of former premier Benjamin Netanyahu that was launched by Benny Gantz, the Defense Minister. Another issue is the bill to be advanced by Gideon Sa’ar, the Justice Minister, which would prevent the former prime minister from forming another government. Other red button issues in the future are matters of the state and religion, with Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli to launch the light rail being constructed in Israel on Shabbat, conversion being dealt with by Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana and Gantz planning on drafting yeshiva students.

Two months ago, Kahana also said that they would address the matter of the Western Wall’s egalitarian prayer after the budgets’ approval. Some of the other issues that are outstanding include the cannabis bills, the controversial citizenship bill and also the plan of Sa’ar to divide the role of attorney-general. There will also be a vote for Bennett’s coalition on Monday at a special occasion of the Knesset regarding whether they are making a lot of concessions or not. Bennett is required to attend the session as 40 opposition MKs have requested it and will also have to address them. 

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