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Israeli coalition's fragility on display during volatile Knesset session

The government of Naftali Bennett was not toppled yesterday, but its failure to pass a critical piece of legislation dealing with settlers does not bode well for its future.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during a press conference on the economy in Jerusalem, on July 6, 2021, flanked by Justice Minister Gideon Saar.

The coalition would prefer to forget everything that happened in the Knesset on the night of June 6. Not only did it suffer a devastating blow in two dramatic votes, but the alliance of disparate parties with very different worldviews actually started falling apart live on television. The coalition failed to obtain a majority in support of a bill extending regulations that implement Israeli criminal law over Israeli residents of West Bank settlements.

These regulations were first passed 55 years ago in the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War. They were intended to formalize the status of Israeli laws in the territories occupied by Israel, but it was a temporary measure. Every five years, the regulations were extended as a matter of routine. This year was different. For the first time, the current coalition includes an Arab party (Ra’am) and individual Arab members of Knesset from the Meretz Party, all of whom had a hard time voting for a bill that in their view effectively grants de facto recognition of the settlements as an integral part of the State of Israel.

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