Miri Levy asks: JAMES, What exactly is the citizen’s state law and do you think the government coalition partners will all support it?
Hello Miri: The citizenship law is legislation already passed in the Knesset, but for a limited period. The law prevents Palestinian Arabs from obtaining automatic residency or citizenship status, when they marry Israeli citizens. It was passed to prevent terrorists from Gaza or the West Bank being able to move around the country more easily, for the purpose of committing a terror act.
The Arab Joint List party who is not part of the new government have called upon the Arab Ra’am and left wing Meretz parties, who ARE part of the coalition, to help thwart the legislation by not voting with the government. All three parties have called it racist and Joint List head Ayman Odeh said “We have an historic opportunity to cancel this law and allow thousands of families to live normal lives”.
Meretz was considering its position and criticised Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) who said, that no changes would be made to the law. Shaked also lambasted the Likud and its allies in the opposition for refusing to back the law, which it supports ideologically and was advancing before they lost power.
The vote to pass the legislation was once again postponed, because the government simply do not have enough votes in the Knesset, at this time to get it through.
Tony Goldstein asks: JAMES, Yair Lapid, Avigdor Liberman, Naftali Bennett, Benny Gantz, Gideon Sa’ar and many other Knesset members all condemned the previous Netanyahu government for not passing a state budget. It has now been almost three weeks since this government was sworn in but where is the budget?
Hello Tony: The new Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beteinu) said his office will draw up a state budget in the coming weeks based on responsible policy. “Everyone comes with demands – they are justified but we must see what our options and priorities are”, he said in remarks at an economic conference.
Liberman also commented on the unpaid leave from employers, which forced former employees onto unemployment benefit. This will cease at the end of this week, for the under 45-year-olds. Liberman said the decision was not easy, “But there are 130,000 jobs available on the market.”
Whenever the budget is ready for a Knesset vote, it must have at least 61 members voting in favour or it will not pass. As the government was only sworn in with just 60 seats, it will be interesting to see if members from the Arab Joint List party will vote in a favour or not.
Jennifer Garfinkle asks: JAMES, Is it true that Netanyahu has not yet referred to Naftali Bennett as Prime Minister?
Hello Jennifer: It’s quite possible because Netanyahu doesn’t feel that Bennett has the real power.
The opposition leader has said several times that it is Yair Lapid who is in charge. His Yesh Atid party have 17 seats whereas Lapid’s seven coalition partners each have between 4 to 8 seats. The Prime Minister’s own party, Yamina, has just 6 seats and no real control over Foreign Affairs, which is all in the hands of Yair Lapid.
In fact this is the first time that an Israeli Prime Minister has no real control over foreign policy. Yair Lapid as Foreign Minister who was just in the United States, will become Prime Minister himself in two years, if the government holds out that long. For now, Lapid is the minister solely dealing with America on any new Iran deal.
Netanel Berger: JAMES, Many Israelis and the press were so desperate to get rid of Netanyahu, the Likud and the religious parties, do you think the inexperience, one seat majority, current bickering and weakness of this government will be a wake-up call to the people?
Hello Netanel: Netanyahu and his family are scheduled to move out of the Prime Minister’s official residence on Balfour Street on 10 July. So if the government is going to fall, it would certainly make things a lot easier for Bibi if it was to fall now.
Seriously, even though my Hebrew name is Yermiyahu, I cannot tell you what will be in the coming months, especially when it comes to predicting Israeli politics. But with so many diverse opinions and views in the government when it comes to the land, settlements, religion and the passing of legislation, I think we are going to see conflict between left and right wing ministers.
But they may also just bite their tongues and do what they did with the citizenship law and postpone votes.
Ask your Israeli political question to James J. Marlow by email: James@TheCommunicationBureau.com or Twitter @James_J_Marlow