Bennett's Yamina to mull punishing rebel MK Amichai Chikli

Steps could also be taken against Deputy Minister Abir Kara for breaking a promise to quit the Knesset.

New Knesset member Amichai Chikli  seen at the Knesset , ahead of the opening Knesset session of the new government, on April 05, 2021. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
New Knesset member Amichai Chikli seen at the Knesset , ahead of the opening Knesset session of the new government, on April 05, 2021.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

The Yamina faction will meet at the Knesset on Monday to consider how to handle the rebellion of MK Amichai Chikli.

The faction refrained from taking action against Chikli for months, in hopes of getting his support for the state budget. But after he voted hundreds of times against the budget and its clauses last week, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and other Yamina MKs want to take action against him immediately. Declaring her support for action against Chikli, Yamina MK Shirley Pinto called him "a virus in the Knesset" on Channel 12.

If the faction asks the Knesset House Committee to formally declare that Chikli has illegally seceded from Yamina, he will not be allowed to run in the next election with the Likud, Religious Zionist Party or any faction in the current Knesset, unless he resigns from the Knesset immediately. But if he decides to remain an MK, Yamina could lose one seat worth of party funding for the next election.

“We need to act using our heads and not our gut,” an opponent of taking action against Chikli in Yamina told Army Radio.

Yamina’s leader, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, has not announced his position on the matter.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid seen during a plenum session and a vote on the state budget at the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem on November 3, 2021.  (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid seen during a plenum session and a vote on the state budget at the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem on November 3, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

One Yamina official said Chikli would be “committing political suicide” if he decides to remain an MK and lose every political option other than forming a new party.

But Israel Hayom columnist Caroline Glick, who ran with Bennett and Shaked when their party did not cross the electoral threshold, said she believed a Chikli-led party could make it into the parliament.

“I don’t know about you, but if Chikli forms a party, I am sure that unlike Smola (“leftward” in Hebrew, her moniker for Yamina, which means “rightward”) or False Hope (her moniker for New Hope), his list will enter the Knesset,” Glick wrote in a tweet. “The people of Israel know how to express gratitude to those who remain loyal, and there is no one more worthy of the title loyal to the land and people of Israel than Amichai.”

Chikli thanked Glick for the tweet. He mocked those who declared that he had seceded by posting a video of Bennett criticizing Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman ahead of a past election, for being willing to crown Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid as prime minister and form a coalition with Meretz.

“The public will judge who the MK who seceded is,” Chikli wrote along with the video.

Yamina also needs to decide how to handle Yamina MK and deputy minister Abir Kara, who voted with the coalition on the budget but has not fulfilled his commitment to quit the Knesset via the Norwegian Law, and allow the next candidate on the list, party director-general Stella Weinstein, to enter the Knesset. Kara said he intends to remain in the Knesset to pass reforms helping independent workers.

“I work only for the public and no one else,” Kara said. “Being a deputy minister and an MK means double the power.”

A Yamina official said the party expects Kara to keep his promises.

“If he won’t, punitive steps can be taken against him,” the official said.