by Mati Tuchfeld
On the eve of the passage of the state budget, the last thing the coalition government needed was a determined and combative opposition.
On Tuesday, the opposition succeeded in exhausting the coalition government when a vote of no confidence narrowly passed and legislation they had hoped to discuss was shelved when they ran out of time. On Wednesday, the opposition even succeeded in passing a bill to establish a Knesset commission of inquiry.
This week's events at the Knesset were a sign the opposition was back after two weeks of dysfunction and inertia. For the government, this is bad news. On the eve of the passage of the state budget, the last thing they needed was to see a determined and combative opposition. On the other hand, this likely won't be enough to topple the government.
Although this requires a great deal of hard work and time, the opposition is ready to go along with the combative approach, to work long nights in the Knesset plenum, and to fight for every law and clause in the state budget law. This is the case despite the fact that opposition members often find themselves wondering what all of this effort is for. Victories in the Knesset are important, but how will this lead to the establishment of a new government and topple this one? This question remains largely unanswered. None of the options on the table, including poaching lawmakers from coalition parties or no-confidence votes, look likely to happen in the near future. Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to stay positive and send the message this will happen any minute, but it's unclear if he has anything to back this message up.
While Netanyahu has been waving the diplomatic flag, drawing attention to his role as the leader of the right-wing camp and pushing the Naftali Bennett-led coalition to the left, some of his party members have preferred to raise the banner of ethnicity. The issue was left abandoned after an attempt was made to make something of it a while back. Of all the parties, no one would have expected the Likud would be the party to raise this banner once again.
In a TV studio earlier this week, Likud MK Galit Distal Atbaryan accused Israel Radio reporter Aryeh Golan of being a racist after he called her a Netanyahu groupie.
This continued in the Knesset plenum. After Yisrael Beytenu MK Evgeny Sova patronizingly told Likud MK David Amsalem there was a need to explain what transpired at Babin Yar in Ukraine, where over just two days in 1937, the Nazis and their collaborators murdered 33,771 Jews. Likud MK Orly Levy-Abekasis responded by yelling at Sova, calling him a patronizing racist. She later dedicated her remarks to the Knesset on the subject.
According to Likud MK Shlomo Karhi, this was not the party's main focus but the result of frustration among some Likud lawmakers who feel they are being repeatedly treated in a racist and patronizing way by the new coalition.
Karhi said sometimes Likud lawmakers feel like they just can't take it anymore. A majority of Likud lawmakers are learned individuals, and "all this as the person leading the current government is a scoundrel prime minister, and a completely uneducated alternate prime minister," he said, referring to Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid.
"It hurts them, and that's why they rush to relate to us with their noses in the air and condescension, calling us all Bibistim [Netanyahu sycophants], thus creating a sense of a lack of understanding and ability to think for ourselves, which is characteristic of sectarian racism," he said.