Coalition delays Idit Silman's Likud switch as revenge for toppling government

If Silman wishes to run in a different party in the upcoming election, she will now have to resign from the Knesset.

 MK's Idit Silman and Nir Orbach arrive for a party meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on May 16, 2022 (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
MK's Idit Silman and Nir Orbach arrive for a party meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on May 16, 2022
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

The Knesset House Committee under former Yamina and renegade current MK Nir Orbach on Monday voted against a request by MK Idit Silman, also a Yamina renegade, to break away from the party and form her own one-person faction. If Silman wishes to run in a different party in the upcoming election, she will now have to resign from the Knesset.

The vote on Silman, which passed four to three, was the coalition’s “punishment” for leaving the coalition in April, a move that took away its majority and paved the way for its collapse.

According to Israeli law, an individual MK in an active Knesset party cannot run on the list of a different active party in the next election unless he or she resigns from the Knesset. This is meant to prevent MKs from agreeing to switch sides to receive a spot on a rival list. Parties are also not allowed to offer MKs from other party’s spots on their list in exchange for political favors.

However, individual MKs are allowed to break away from their original parties and run with a different, existing party on the condition that all members of the original party give their consent. If at least three MKs decide to break away from the original party as a group, they may do so even if the original party does not give its full consent.

The party, which is still called Yamina as it belongs to the current Knesset, gave its consent to Silman, but since the Knesset House Committee opposed it, the request was rejected.

Pinto set to quit Yamina, join Kahana at National Unity

Yamina MKs Shirley Pinto and Matan Kahana also requested to officially leave the party, but their requests were not voted on, as the Knesset House Committee went into recess as soon as the vote on Silman fell. Instead, Kahana and Pinto formed a three-person “breakaway” faction along with Yamina MK and Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. This will allow Kahana and Pinto to continue serving as MKs, but it will force Silman to resign if she wishes to run again.

Pinto told Yamina leader and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked she would not continue with her new Zionist Spirit faction in the next election, and Kahana joined the newly formed National Unity Party.

Deputy Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament on May 16, 2022. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)Deputy Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament on May 16, 2022. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

The four who voted against Silman in the committee were coalition MKs Yulia Malinovsky (Yisrael Beytenu), Boaz Toporovsky (Yesh Atid), Emilie Moatti (Labor) and Moshe Kinley Turpaz (Blue and White). The three who voted in favor were Orbach, Silman and UTJ MK Yitzhak Pindrus.

“I am not willing to give prizes to the person who dragged the State of Israel to an unnecessary election,” Malinovsky wrote on Twitter.

Netanyahu hopes to include Silman in Likud list

Silman is widely believed to be one of Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s picks for one of the spots reserved for him to pick on the Likud list. Netanyahu has three spots reserved for him that have a realistic chance of making into the Knesset – 14, 16 and 28.

The Likud had proposed that Silman be placed No. 7 on the Religious Zionist Party list and not in the Likud. MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the Otzma Yehudit faction, nixed the offer.

Netanyahu had hoped it could break the impasse in the negotiations between Religious Zionist Party chairman Bezalel Smotrich and Ben-Gvir over their merger agreement. The two sides reportedly did not agree on the identity of the No. 7 spot. Ben-Gvir wants it to be reserved for a person of his choice, while Smotrich wants it to be a candidate upon whom they both agree.