Cheering and applause accompanied the new leader of the opposition, Knesset member Benjamin Netanyahu, when he left the plenum this morning, July 6. It had been a long, hard night, and in the end the coalition suffered a stunning defeat by failing to extend the amendment to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel law, targeting Palestinians married to Israelis and preventing family reunions.
“You’re our prime minister now and forever,” someone in the chamber called to him. Netanyahu waved back in victory before leaving to catch a few hours of sleep. He still had a full day of exhausting parliamentary squabbles ahead of him, and he had been up all night. Perhaps he wanted to serve as a personal example to the other members of the Likud, or perhaps he wanted to instill a fighting spirit in them. The new government did not fall. It can continue to function, at least for the time being. Still, there was no doubt that it suffered a serious defeat.