Barkat: Likud MKs cooperated with party's enemies

Ministers to vote on bills that would require all Israeli kids to study Arabic, create Unity Day

NIR BARKAT at a rally supporting him on Thursday night, June 10 2021 (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
NIR BARKAT at a rally supporting him on Thursday night, June 10 2021
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)

Likud MK Nir Barkat accused his future rivals for the Likud leadership on Saturday of joining forces with the party’s adversaries to harm him politically.

Barkat made the accusation following the passage in its first reading of the so-called anti-Barkat bill.

The bill would limit MKs and their families to political spending of no more than NIS 100,000 a year when there is no election campaign going on.

One of the MKs who lobbied most for the bill was Israel Katz who, like Barkat, has announced that he will compete for the leadership of the Likud Party after opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu vacates it.

Miri Regev, another Likud leadership candidate, joined Katz and 11 other Likud MKs to vote for the bill that is intended to make a run harder on Barkat. With a fortune estimated at $1.3 billion, Barkat is the Knesset’s only billionaire.

Finance Minister Israel Katz and MK Nir Barkat clash at the Knesset's Finance Committee (credit: ADINA WALLMAN/KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN)Finance Minister Israel Katz and MK Nir Barkat clash at the Knesset's Finance Committee (credit: ADINA WALLMAN/KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN)

“The background is that [New Hope Party chairman] Gideon [Sa’ar, Yamina head Naftali] Bennett and [Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid and some hacks in Likud are uniting to try to stop me from succeeding in Likud and leading the nationalist camp,” Barkat told Channel 12 in an interview. “They joined with Gideon, Bennett and Lapid and their goal is to harm the leader after Netanyahu.”

Barkat said he thought it was better to use his own money rather than to rely on contributions or state funding.

Regev responded that Barkat should have supported the bill to make it fair for anyone to run for the party leadership.

“It’s not a personal bill,” she told the program Meet the Press. “In a democracy, it should not be possible to buy power.”

On the same program, Sa’ar, who is also Justice minister, responded for the first time to last week’s meeting of Defense Minister Benny Gantz with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas at Gantz’s home in Rosh Ha’ayin.

“I think it was unnecessary and not particularly important,” Sa’ar said. “Former prime ministers [Benjamin] Netanyahu, [Ariel] Sharon and [Ehud] Olmert have all met with Abu Mazen [Abbas]. If I was defense minister, I would not meet with Abu Mazen.”

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation, which Sa’ar heads, will convene on Sunday to consider more than a dozen bills. One of them, sponsored by Barkat, would officially designate the 15th day of Sivan as being an annual Day of Unity, to mark the anniversary of the 2014 kidnapping and murder of teens Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel.

Another bill that will come to a vote would require all Israeli children to study Arabic from third grade. Sponsored by Ra’am (United Arab List) MK Iman Khatib-Yasin, the bill would make an Arabic matriculation test obligatory.