IDF soldiers take part in a ceremony marking the Ethiopian Jewish holiday of Sigd .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to end a rebellion in his Likud faction regarding immigration from Ethiopia, according to a tape of Monday’s closed-door Likud faction meeting that was revealed by Army Radio on Wednesday.
The coalition has suffered for the past few weeks from boycotts by Likud MKs Avraham Neguise and David Amsalem, who have threatened to not vote for coalition-backed legislation until a cabinet decision to bring the final 9,000 would-be immigrant from Ethiopia is implemented.
Many of those waiting in Addis Ababa have relatives living in Israel.
“You can’t have more and more and more and more,” Netanyahu told the faction. “Every politician wants more and more and more and more, and they want more of what they want, not what someone else wants. I’ve told Neguise that I have done more than any other prime minister. It’s not so popular to say what I say, but I have decided that there are security needs that must take priority.”
When Neguise argued with him that the cabinet had already voted to fund such immigration, Netanyahu said the government’s decisions are updated based on realities of the moment. For instance, he said, when there are wars, they require funding.
“You cannot have a coalition if every MK decides how to vote on his own,” Netanyahu warned the faction.
“When I told members of the previous government that a coalition cannot function that way, they didn’t listen to me. I suggest you do.”
The prime minister complained on the tape that there are too many regulations in Israel, and too many laws that interfere with people’s lives. He mocked bills for “requiring a lifeguard for every sprinkler and hotel jacuzzi.”
Explaining his support for a bill advanced Sunday that would limit fund-raising for political organizations, Netanyahu complained about the V15 organization that worked against him in last year’s election.
“V15 had a very expensive computer program from abroad that was used to build a database of potential voters,” he said.
Spokesmen for V15 denied Netanyahu’s allegations, and said their computer program was Israeli.
“Netanyahu apparently doesn’t appreciate the Start-Up Nation if he thinks such things have to be imported from abroad,” said Nimrod Dweck, campaign manager for V15, which has since last year’s election has changed its name to Darkenu (Our Way).
At a press conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday Netanyahu confirmed Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman’s statements that he was approached about taking his party into the coalition that currently numbers only 61 of the 120 MKs.
“Sixty-one is good, but 61 plus is better,” Netanyahu said. “There are always contacts to expand the coalition, and I will welcome it if they succeed.”
Netanyahu mocked Liberman for predicting that his government would fall last year.
“First he said it would fall in 2015, then he said it would fall in 2016, but it won’t fall,” Netanyahu said. “There are disagreements but the coalition is strong. Every week, the government and the coalition makes decisions. They don’t always get reported.”