Yamina renegade and longtime Bennett critic was officially declared a defector in a Knesset vote on Monday, 7 to 0.

Israel (April 26, 2022)— Yamina renegade and longtime Bennett critic was officially declared a defector in a Knesset vote on Monday, 7 to 0.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett scored a much-needed political victory on Monday, when at his request, in a stormy meeting of the Knesset House Committee, it formally declared his longtime critic, MK Amichai Chikli, a hostile defector in a 7-0 vote.

Chikli immediately declared he would appeal the decision to the Jerusalem District Court. But legally, his status as a defector took effect immediately and will remain intact unless a court overrules the committee’s decision.

His new status prevents Chikli from running for the next Knesset with any current faction, including Likud. He will not be permitted to be appointed as a minister or deputy minister in the current Knesset, even if the Likud takes power – but, as Likud officials have pointed out, he could serve as a minister in the next government.

Bennett called party heads in his government on Sunday to calm his coalition ahead of the hearing and worked behind the scenes to ensure that his request would pass. Bennett’s goal in targeting Chikli was to deter former coalition chairwoman Idit Silman from voting against the government, make splitting his faction harder and prevent the government from falling.

In a sign that he was on the way to achieving that goal, Silman did not participate in the vote.

Chikli praised Silman for her “courage,” citing a poll that found that 71% of Israelis think Bennett, not Chikli, left Yamina.” He read 100 campaign promises from Bennett and other Yamina leaders that were broken.

“Bennett, Shaked and their underlings did tremendous damage to Israeli democracy and to the public’s trust in their elected officials, and it will take years to recover from what they did,” Chikli said.

“It is an honor and obligation to oppose those who violated their promises out of greed for power,” he said. “I am proud to stand here against the false promises of Bennett.”

Chikli ended his address by saying that Bennett has no God. Opposition MKs applauded.

When Silman entered the hearing, she was embraced by Likud MKs who told her to be strong. She heckled Bennett’s representative at the hearing, Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana, when he accused her of leaving the coalition in return for future political appointments from the Likud for her and her husband.

“We are not the defectors,” Silman said. “We are going with our promises, platform and values that we promised Yamina voters,” adding that it’s “better late than never.”

KAHANA SAID Chikli voted against the coalition 754 times, including against the government’s formation and 651 times against the state budget. Kahana criticized Chikli for meeting with Netanyahu about running with Likud.

“He consistently voted against the faction, criticized the faction and worked against the faction,” Kahana said. “Practically, MK Chikli already left the faction. He said he will run with a different party. He already gave the faction a divorce.”

Kahana cited quotes of Chikli criticizing Netanyahu during the last campaign. He also quoted Chikli saying that Yamina shouldn’t rule out any party during coalition talks when asked about a coalition deal with Ra’am (the United Arab List) and its leader, Mansour Abbas.

“You left us because you cared about your political future,” Kahana said. “You left us because you didn’t have the courage to endure what we have for the state, including what MK Silman endured.”

Chikli’s lawyer, Guy Busy, said Kahana’s testimony was ineligible because he is not an MK. Kahana quit the Knesset via the Norwegian Law for MK Shirly Pinto, who Busy said should not be able to vote, because her job was dependent on Kahana and because she called Chikli “a virus” on social media.

Busy protested that he was not permitted to summon Bennett to the meeting. He pointed out that Shaked, Yamina’s number two, is negotiating leaving the party for Likud. He passed out the law regarding defectors to prove it did not apply to his client.

“The law says specifically that ‘ideological departure without compensation is not part of the law,’” Busy said.

House Committee chairman Nir Orbach, who is mulling leaving Yamina himself, did not chair the meeting. He is sitting shiva for his mother and his mother-in-law, who both died over the weekend.

Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzburg, who chaired the meeting, expelled Likud MKs Orly Levy, Miri Regev, Mai Golan, David Amsalem, Ophir Katz and Keti Sheetrit, as well as Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar Ben-Gvir for bad behavior. Shas MK Moshe Arbel complained to Ginzburg that 90% of the MKs he kicked out were Sephardim.

MK Orly Levy, who was expelled from her faction in the 20th Knesset, ironically was the first MK kicked out of the hearing and the first to be removed a second time.

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Source: The Jerusalem Post wrote the original article.

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