Chikli may join Likud pending his resignation, court finds

The Knesset Committee voted on April 25 to deem Chikli a deserter based on his consistent votes against his party, Yamina.

 MK AMICHAI CHIKLI attends the House Committee meeting in the Knesset last week at which he was declared a defector. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
MK AMICHAI CHIKLI attends the House Committee meeting in the Knesset last week at which he was declared a defector.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

MK Amichai Chikli will almost certainly be able to run as part of the Likud in the next election if he resigns in the next three or four days, according to an agreement reached in the Jerusalem District Court on Sunday.

Chikli told The Jerusalem Post that he intends to resign.

The decision means that Chikli will most likely be inserted into the Likud, and will not form his own party.

This is a win for the Likud bloc, since an independent party led by Chikli might not have passed the election threshold, wasting votes.

Chikli announced last June that he did not support Alternate Prime Minister and Yamina head Yair Lapid’s decision to form a government that included center-left parties and an Arab party.

 MK Amichai Chikli reacts during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on January 19, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) MK Amichai Chikli reacts during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on January 19, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Knesset Committee voted on April 25 to deem Chikli a deserter based on his consistent votes against his party, Yamina.

The law says that a deserter may not run in the following election with an existing party. However, if a Knesset member resigns immediately after being deemed a deserter, he will not suffer the sanctions that usually apply to a deserter.

However, the law does not clarify what “immediate” means. It could mean immediately following a final ruling after an appeal and not necessarily immediately after the Knesset Committee’s discussion.

Knesset attorney Anat Goldstein thus agreed that due to specific circumstances of the case, if Chikli resigns within the next “few days,” it will fall within the definition of “immediate,” and he will not be sanctioned

Yamina attorney Amichai Weinberger opposed the agreement, arguing that it was a “prize” for Chikli and went against the law’s basic meaning.

The three justices, led by Justice Hagit Mak-Kalmanovitz, agreed with Goldstein’s opinion.

Based on the justices’ opinion, Chikli decided to pull the appeal.

Earlier in the debate, Chikli’s attorney Alon Pomerantz argued that the law was specifically meant to prevent cases in which MKs are given “political bribes” in order to switch sides. Chikli repeatedly turned down offers from the opposition, Pomerantz said, and therefore did not meet this category.

Goldstein and Weinberger countered that the law had a broader purpose: to prevent a case where an MK consistently acts against his party but refuses to resign.

This was exactly Chikli’s case, and was thus equivalent to holding a stick at both ends. This clearly qualified as desertion, Pomerantz argued.

Chikli’s resignation means that former MK Yomtob Kalfon will return to the Knesset.

His insertion into the Likud will also be a positive development for current Yamina head Ayelet Shaked, who now will not have to fight another right-wing party led by Chikli.

Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu is allowed three automatic picks for the party’s list. There are now four leading candidates – Chikli, fellow ex-Yamina MKs Nir Orbach and Idit Silman, and Gal Hirsch, a former candidate for police commissioner and a retired career IDF officer.

It remains to be seen who will be left out.