Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich have made significant efforts in recent days to persuade the heads of Meretz, Hadash and the Arab parties to support their bid for opposition chairman.
According to law, the head of the largest party in the opposition is usually appointed opposition leader, but Knesset members who did not join the coalition can also support another candidate, even if that candidate is not from the largest party.
After the Yesh Atid party (19 MKs) discovered that Labor (15 MKs) asked for the support of Meretz and the Arab parties, Lapid himself on Tuesday approached Meretz head Zehava Gal-On and asked for her party to support him as opposition leader.
Gal-On promised Lapid and Yachimovich that she would allow them both to appear before the members of her party in an attempt to persuade them.
Gal-On is inclined to support Yachimovich, as are the National Democratic Assembly and Ra'am-Ta'al parties. Under these circumstances, Hadash could cast the deciding vote. Should Meretz, Hadash and the Arab parties vote for Yachimovich, she would have the support of 32 Knesset members, while Lapid would be supported only by the 19 members of his party.
The opposition leader receives special status under law. The prime minister is required to summon him at least once a month for a meeting to brief him on all diplomatic issues. The opposition head is also granted the privilege of making a speech in the Knesset plenary immediately after the prime minister at every Knesset event or debate. He or she also has a special role in state ceremonies and a salary equal to that of a government minister.