Opposition hides MK in car in overnight Knesset drama

Yevarkan: When the coalition panics, the citizens lose. Coalition: Minefields won't be cleared because of their maneuver.

 A lobby is launched in the Knesset to support Diaspora Jews. (photo credit: ARYEH LABE ABRAHMS)
A lobby is launched in the Knesset to support Diaspora Jews.
(photo credit: ARYEH LABE ABRAHMS)

The opposition succeeded in stopping the coalition from passing bills overnight, thanks to creative maneuvers, including hiding a sick MK in the Knesset parking lot.

Likud MK Gadi Yevarkan stayed home ill in bed. But when the opposition saw that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was not coming to vote, its leaders persuaded Yevarkan to come.

Yevarkan arrived at 1 a.m in a taxi, because he did not feel well enough to drive. He then hid in the car of Likud MK Yoav Kisch until 3 a.m., when Kisch summoned him to vote. Coalition MK Yulia Malinovsky saw the taxi, but Kisch told her it was delivering something for him.

Thanks to Yevarkan’s vote, there was a 48- 48 tie between the coalition and opposition on a bill extending the right of the Idan+ digital terrestrial television system to enable free broadcasts of Israeli television channels in a digital format instead of the older analog format.  

After the vote, the coalition was forced to withdraw remaining bills, including one that would continue enabling the clearing of minefields that had to be passed by the end of the calendar year.

 PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett and Ra’am Chairman Mansour Abbas confer in the Knesset last month. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett and Ra’am Chairman Mansour Abbas confer in the Knesset last month. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Yevarkan said he only came in after it became clear that the coalition was breaking pairing off agreements, including one with Likud MK Eti Atiya, whose father had died the day before.

“This coalition has no ethics and would stop at nothing, including violating agreements,” Yevarkan said. “If panicking was not the normal business strategy of this coalition, we would not have won the votes. They are addicted to panicking, so we took advantage of it and got our revenge. When they panic, the citizens of Israel lose.”

Yamina MK Shirly Pinto, who gave birth three weeks ago, was on the way to the Knesset when the votes took place. It was unclear why Bennett did not come to the votes, which were attended by Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

“They did a dirty but impressive maneuver,” a coalition official said. “But when we hid MKs in the cafeteria, it brought down Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. When they did it, it could allow a seven-year-old to walk into a minefield that can’t be cleared, because we didn’t pass the law.”

The opposition’s maneuver was revenge for what happened hours earlier, when the coalition passed its own version of the so-called “anti-Barkat bill,” which would limit an elected official and his family to donations of NIS 100,000 a year for political activity when no elections are taking place. The coalition defeated an identical bill sponsored by the opposition’s most vociferous MK, David Amsalem.

The bill, which split the Likud faction, is seen as an attempt to harm the candidacy of the Knesset’s only billionaire, MK Nir Barkat, who intends to run for the Likud leadership whenever opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu will not be a candidate. The bill’s sponsor, MK Sharren Haskel, said the advantages billionaire politicians enjoy in the United States made the bill more urgent.

“We see what’s happening in America,” Haskel said.