Bennett's coalition is starting to punish Silman. Here's how

The MK, formerly from the prime minister's party, angered him Monday when she refused to commit to voting for appointing his confidant, MK Matan Kahana, as religious services minister.

 PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett speaks with MK Idit Silman in the Knesset in January. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett speaks with MK Idit Silman in the Knesset in January.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s governing coalition has begun taking punitive measures against former coalition chairwoman Idit Silman, who last month announced she was defecting to the opposition.

Silman angered Bennett on Monday when she refused to commit to vote to appoint Bennett’s confidant, MK Matan Kahana, as religious services minister. Bennett’s associates said if she votes against Kahana, Yamina would have her declared a defector and force her to quit the Knesset or be prevented from running in the next election with the Likud.

The first punishment came Sunday when Silman was evicted from her large office next to Bennett’s on the Knesset’s second floor, a room usually given to a cabinet minister or someone the prime minister can trust.

The second came after midnight early Tuesday, when it was announced in the Knesset plenum that Yamina MK Shirley Pinto would replace Silman on the Knesset House Committee. The move came as a surprise to the head of the committee, Yamina faction chairman Nir Orbach.

Pinto was also added to the Knesset Health Committee in place of Yesh Atid MK Tania Mazarsky. Pinto has demanded to replace Silman as head of the committee. Silman wants to keep the committee, which was created at her request last year.

 Knesset member of Yamina party Idit Silman and her husband, Shmulik, arrive to the parliament for attending the swearing-in ceremony of the 24th Knesset in Jerusalem, April 6, 2021 (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) Knesset member of Yamina party Idit Silman and her husband, Shmulik, arrive to the parliament for attending the swearing-in ceremony of the 24th Knesset in Jerusalem, April 6, 2021 (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Adding Pinto was seen as a warning to Silman to improve her behavior or face more punishment.

Yamina officials have negotiated her political future with Silman and her husband, Shmulik Silman, KAN News reported Tuesday. The Silmans told Yamina she would only vote for Kahana if she was allowed to break off from the Yamina faction without being declared a defector. Yamina is expected to refuse the offer.

In Monday’s Yamina faction meeting, a party official was asked to take a protocol of what was said in the meeting, which could be used against Silman in a hearing on declaring her a defector.