Opposition lawmakers stood up for Yesh Atid's first rebel MK Adi Kol early
Thursday morning, after she was punished for voting against her party's
Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid faction
chairman Ofer Shelach suspended Kol from all parliamentary activity after she
surprised the party by abstaining in part of the electoral reform bill's first
Kol told Shelach before the vote that she was having doubts
about the bill, but did not inform him in advance that she decided not to vote
in its favor. On Wednesday night, she became the first rebel in Yesh Atid, a
party whose ranks had heretofore been very united.
controversial vote, Kol had a heated conversation with Shelach in the back of
the plenum and was visibly upset. About 15 minutes later, she sent the following
message to the press: "Today, I abstained in the vote on the electoral reform
bill. This was a decision that mainly hurt my fellow faction members, and I
apologize." Even though the bill passed, Lapid and Shelach removed Kol from
chairmanship of the Knesset Public Petitions Committee and from membership of
any Knesset committees. In addition, she won't be able to propose bills through
Sources in Yesh Atid expressed discomfort with the decision,
saying the party's leadership went too far.
Shelach, however, defended
the decision, pointing out that the vote was so important to the coalition that
MKs who were abroad flew back to Israel.
"This was a cardinal vote.
Coalition discipline isn't about being a dictatorship. There is no coalition
without discipline," he told Israel Radio.
Shelach added that electoral
reform isn't only a coalition policy, but was part of Yesh Atid's platform in
the last election, and Kol campaigned for it.
"Kol even influenced
changes in the bill as a member of the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice
Committee. She was a partner in this policy. She shouldn't have put personal
feelings before the faction," Shelach stated. "When you make a decision as a
mature adult to enter politics, you have to accept the rules." As for claims
that Yesh Atid behaved undemocratically, Shelach said he does not accept them
and that they're politically motivated. In addition, he said he did not tell Kol
to make a public apology and that she did so of her own volition.
unavailable for comment.
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) said
Kol could propose bills via Labor, an offer she made to former Kadima MK Robert
Tibayev when she faced a similar punishment in the last Knesset.
debate on Referendum Bill, which was next on the Knesset's agenda, Shas MK
Yitzhak Cohen called Yesh Atid a dictatorship.
"There is one pleasure
Yesh Atid MKs won't have in this Knesset: Speaking freely," MK Itzik Shmuly
At one point, MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) was removed from the
plenum for shouting that he's embarrassed to be in a Knesset with parties that
behave like Yesh Atid.
"I couldn't hold back," Gafni said later. "I
shouldn't intervene in other parties' decisions, but MK Kol opposed the party
line and asked to abstain. They forced her to write an apology and suspended
her. The party is like North Korea!" MK Merav Michaeli (Labor) said "once again
I agree with MK Gafni. What was done to MK Adi Kol is the height of aggression,
and it is no coincidence that it was directed toward a female MK and not a male
one." Yesh Atid's punishment for Kol is not unique – it has been used by many
parties in past Knessets.
However, if Kol should appeal her punishment to
the Knesset House Committee, there is a precedent for it being
In 2004, Lapid's father's then-justice minister and Shinui
leader Yosef Lapid fired then-national infrastructure minister Yosef Paritzky,
and the faction suspended him from parliamentary activity. Then Knesset House
Committee chairman Ronnie Bar-On said that there cannot be "walking dead" MKs,
and that Shinui cannot stop Paritzky from doing what he was was elected to do,
serve the public.