Shinui Party Leaves Government

December 4, 2004

Led by Israeli television personality Tommy Lapid, Shinui,(change), won fifteen seats in the 2003 Israeli election. It became the third largest party in the Knesset. As a result of their election victory, the secular, liberal party was invited to be a part of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coalition and was given five ministerial positions in the government. The presence of Shinui in the coalition was representative of both the party’s electoral success but also because they were likely to be supporters of Sharon’s plan for disengagement from Gaza. They were dismissed from the government in 2005 over their failure to support the budget.

Their ouster stemmed from Sharon’s decision to restore 290 million shekels to the 2005 budget for ultra-Orthodox education. In response, Lapid claimed that the government lacked funds for many basic needs but was willing to “give matza balls to rabbis.” Following an early December vote where Sharon’s budget failed to pass, in part because Shinui did not endorse it, Sharon summoned the five Shinui ministers to his Knesset office and handed prepared, one-sentence letters, ending their terms of office. Sharon claimed that the Shinui ministers were motivated by a “hatred of haredim and everything Jewish.”

Shinui leaving the coalition followed the departure of The National Religious Party, which left in protest over the Disengagement from Gaza, in November. The departure of both parties led to the formation of a new coalition on January 2006, when a national unity government was formed with the Labor Party joining the government.

The photo shows Tommy Lapid debating the budget proposed on December 1, 2004.

Photo Credit: Tommy Lapid debating the budget proposed on December 1, 2004.