David Amsalem says fellow Likud MK Barkat 'should sit in jail'

Likud MK David Amsalem once again took aim at fellow faction member Nir Barkat, a week after his "anti-Barkat bill" divided the right-wing party.

MK David Amsalem (Likud) at the Knesset Plenum, January 3, 2022. (photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN - NOAM MOSKOWITZ)
MK David Amsalem (Likud) at the Knesset Plenum, January 3, 2022.
(photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN - NOAM MOSKOWITZ)

MK David Amsalem attacked his Likud colleague Nir Barkat in a Channel 13 interview broadcast on Friday night, saying the leading candidate to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as party leader in polls should "sit in jail for bribing everyone."

"Nir Barkat does not scare anyone," Amsalem said in the interview. "It's all about money. Take money out of the question, and he is gone. Nothing can stop him from sending a NIS 2,000 check to every Israeli citizen today."

Last month, Amsalem sponsored a bill that 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 bill did not pass the Knesset plenum, but an identical bill, proposed by coalition MK Sharren Haskel (New Hope), did. 

Amsalem's "anti-Barkat bill" was supported by no less than 13 Likud MKs, leading Barkat to lash out at his faction members, accusing them of cooperating with "Likud's enemies" against him.

In the interview, Amsalem said Barkat opposed the bill because he "bribes people with money." 

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)

Sources close to Barkat quickly responded to Amsalem's interview, saying that Amsalem's remarks hurt the Likud's unity and, in turn, aid the coalition and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

"A Likudnik should not take aim at another Likudnik, but any expectation of Amsalem to respect his fellow faction members is gone," Barkat said.

The two Likud MKs have feuded for more than a dozen years, starting when Barkat was mayor of Jerusalem and Amsalem was a municipal department head.

In an interview with the Makor Rishon newspaper on Friday, Barkat listed his English among his qualifications to run for prime minister in the post-Netanyahu era.

"I come from the global world, and most of my business was with American businessmen," he said. "My English is at mother-tongue level. I think in English and  know how to translate my actions to Americans."

Amsalem also took aim at Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy, calling him Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid's "submissive servant" who "disgraces the Knesset on a daily basis."