Likud MK Bennie Begin.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MK Bennie Begin reassured the public that he will continue representing his party in the Knesset Monday, a day after his resignation from his minister-without-portfolio post took effect.
“I heard and read in the last day an assessment or a rumor that I plan to resign from the Knesset.... I have no such intention,” he announced at the beginning of a Likud faction meeting, and was met with applause.
Begin added that whoever thinks he plans to resign from the Knesset “must be a bit of an idiot who does not recognize the importance of the Knesset and the activities of its committees and does not know the way in which I work. I have a public sphere of action on which to focus, and I do the best I can within it.”
Begin requested to be in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, the Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women and the Interior Committee, and expressed hope that he will be able to work hard in them.
As of Monday, when the makeup of the committees was made official, Begin was assigned to the first two committees, and coalition chairman Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) is working on getting an MK from another party in the Interior Committee to move to another panel to let Begin in.
Begin recounted that his father, former prime minister Menachem Begin, was an MK in the opposition for 29 years, and that Begin the elder said that a legislator, with persistence and honesty, can serve the nation even in the opposition.
As for the circumstances of his resignation from the cabinet – Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan joined it 10 days late, pushing the Likud past its 12-minister limit, and coalition parties did not acquiesce to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to allow the Likud another cabinet member – Begin said the prime minister told him he was going to try make an arrangement, it did not succeed, “and that is completely fine.”
Begin referred to a Facebook post Netanyahu wrote praising him, joking: “For a minute I thought I was reading a eulogy about myself, but then I pulled myself together... and moved on.”
Earlier Monday, several opposition MKs referred to the way in which Begin was made to resign as disgraceful.
“Begin’s resignation shows there’s something wrong with this government,” opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said, even as his party bickered over positions in the Knesset, much like the Likud infighting that led to Begin’s ouster.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said the situation with Begin proves that Netanyahu is susceptible to pressure, calling the prime minister’s behavior shameful.
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman said he “has a problem with Netanyahu, not the Likud, just like Begin,” among other examples.
MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) was optimistic that the government would fall apart soon, saying that Begin’s departure was a harbinger of doom for the coalition.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid referred to a viral Likud campaign ad, saying “Netanyahu is running a preschool, not a government” and mocked the way the prime minister distributed jobs, took them away and redistributed them.