Naftali Bennett cleverly used the Arab Ra’am Party to come to power and now he is holding it at gunpoint. The politics in Israel are something of an art and judging by the way things are panning out, it looks like the right-leaning faction of the change coalition has gotten an edge over its fellow alliance partners. Given its influence (owing to its numbers and position in the alliance), the Arab Ra’am Party thought that it could hold the alliance at gunpoint. However, Naftali Bennett has cleverly used Ra’am Party to come to power and now, they turned the gun on them, instead.
A vote on extending the Palestinian family reunification law was delayed yet again on Tuesday when the coalition realized that it has yet to secure a majority. As per media reports, rather than being presented to the Knesset on Wednesday as planned, the vote will now take place on Monday, July 5. On July 6, the prohibition prohibiting the automatic grant of citizenship to Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens will expire. Following the announcement, Likud chastised the coalition for failing to secure enough votes. Last week, Ra’am MK Walid Taha vowed that he would never vote in favour or abstain from voting on the legislation, which he called ‘racist’ and ‘anti-democratic’.
However, now Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has reportedly threatened MKs in Ra’am and Meretz that if they don’t support the legislation, then the coalition will work to advance a quasi-constitutional bill that would overhaul the immigration system in Israel, and ease the way for a greater number of deportations.
“There has never been such a failing and faltering coalition,” Likud tweeted. “The fact that Bennett’s fraudulent government has once again pushed off the vote on extending the temporary order proves again that it is a dangerous left-wing government which is reliant on anti-Zionist forces.”
In Israel, a family reunion usually entails an Israeli citizen petitioning for citizenship for his or her non-Israeli spouse. The majority of unification applications are submitted on behalf of a Palestinian spouse living in the West Bank or Gaza Strip by Arab Israelis. However, the 2003 law (which was passed in response to fears that it was being used by terrorists to gain admission to Israel), imposed restrictions on this procedure, making it more difficult for Palestinians to get Israeli citizenship or residency through marriage.
Since 2003, the law barring family reunifications has been extended every year with strong support from Likud and other right-wing parties. This time around the situation is different. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is himself a right-wing politician by ideology. He wants to extend the ban on Arab Israelis and Palestinians when it comes to reunification, but he is facing stiff opposition from other right-wing parties.
The Likud party and the religious Zionist party have already indicated that they will not be voting in favour of the anti-reunification law introduced by the Bennett government. Make no mistake; the opposition right-wing parties sense deep fault lines in the Bennett government and by refusing to vote in favour of the key legislation, they are testing the Bennett government’s endurance.
As mentioned earlier, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is said to have told Ra’am and Meretz MKs that if they don’t back the bill, the coalition will attempt to pass a quasi-constitutional bill that would restructure Israel’s immigration system and make it easier to deport more people. Considering these developments, it can be seen how cleverly the right-wing faction of the coalition is forcing the left-wing partners to remain silent and make the Ra’am members abstain from voting.