Bennett’s coalition braces for post-budget clashes

MPs from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s ruling coalition celebrated the approval of the state budgets for 2021 and 2022 over the weekend, but disagreements on a dozen sensitive issues that were postponed until after the budget will soon cause internal disputes.

Bennett and Lapid declined to address the key issues at their joint press conference Saturday night, preferring only to say that the issues would be resolved at a meeting of party leaders to be held soon. But sources close to Bennett and Lapid admitted Sunday night that no time had been set for such a meeting and that they were in no rush to convene it.

“There is no specific time,” said a Lapid associate. “Each topic will be considered on its own.”

But sources from other coalition parties said they would insist that such a meeting take place to ensure the kind of give-and-take that would allow each coalition party to claim that it had served its voters.

The first post-budget disputes have arisen over the deals. After Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev (Labor) criticized Bennett on the issue of the Evyatar outpost, MPs Mossi Raz and Gabi Laski of Meretz wrote to Bennett, warning him that the Construction Minister’s plans, Ze’ev Elkin, from building in the Jordan Valley, crossed the red line. .

Labor intends to push for a change in the Finance Ministry’s list of preferred communities, removing wealthy communities in Judea and Samaria and adding more communities in Galilee and Negev that would receive special benefits.

Meretz deputies were also upset that Bennett and Lapid ruled out the possibility of the United States reopening its consulate in Jerusalem that served the Palestinian Authority before it was closed by US President Donald Trump.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the cabinet meeting, November 7, 2021 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM / THE JERUSALEM POST)

Among the issues on which Bennett remains undecided is the investigation of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s underwater affair initiated by Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White), and the bill aimed at preventing Netanyahu from forming another government, which will be presented by the Minister of Justice. Gideon Sa’ar (New Hope).

Issues of religion and state are also expected to be red button issues in the coming months, with Gantz intending to advance plans to recruit yeshiva students, Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana (Yamina) addressing the conversion, and Transport Minister Merav Michaeli (Labor) ensuring that a light rail being built through Tel Aviv will run on Shabbat. Kahana also said two months ago that she would also address the issue of egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall after the approval of the budget.

Other pending issues include the controversial citizenship bill presented by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) and opposed by Meretz and Ra’am (United Arab List); Sa’ar’s plans to divide the role of the attorney general; and the New Hope faction chairwoman Sharen Haskel’s cannabis bills, which are opposed by Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz).

Bennett’s coalition will face a vote in a special Knesset session on Monday on whether it is making too many concessions.

The Religious Zionist Party opened the session on the topic: “The Bennett-Abbas government is renewing the diplomatic process to divide the land and form a terrorist state in the heart of Israel.”

Bennett will have to attend the session, at the request of 40 opposition MPs, and then address them. Netanyahu will also speak. Both will also address the Knesset during a session marking the anniversary of the death of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.

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