Likud asks internal court to expel rebel MK

Haskel responded that she would not give into what she called "bullying by the new chairman of the coalition."

Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai and Likud MK Sharren Haskel at 137th assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. (photo credit: IPU)
Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai and Likud MK Sharren Haskel at 137th assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
(photo credit: IPU)
MK Sharren Haskel will not be thrown out of the Likud Party after an internal Likud court rejected a petition by coalition chairman David Amsalem to expel her for not supporting the controversial mini-markets bill. The three-judge panel decided it had no jurisdiction to vote on the petition, especially since a vote on the proposed legislation had not yet taken place. The judges said Haskel should reconsider voting for the bill in order to ensure the continuation of the Likud government.
At times the hearing became intense. Likud lawyer Avi Halevy accused Haskel of not using common sense and suggested she would do so “when she grows up.” When Haskel objected to such language, Halevy said, “I meant growing up politically and gaining experience.”
Likud comptroller Shai Galili said the party had made no decision to back the bill and that the faction was behaving undemocratically. One of the judges apologized to Haskel, saying she had been put before a firing squad. “My parliamentary immunity is intended to enable me to work without a sword hanging over my head and make decisions that I feel are best for the state and party,” Haskel told the court. She mentioned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself voted against a 70% decision of the Likud central committee in 1991 to oppose direct elections of prime ministers. She listed several instances of Likud MKs, including Amsalem, who had violated faction discipline in the current Knesset. Netanyahu, who met with Haskel for nearly an hour, told the Likud faction it was acceptable to violate faction discipline once every 20 years, but not when such a vote could topple the government.
Haskel received support from within and from outside of her party on Monday. Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, who left Likud and formed his own party, tweeted a video of himself praising Haskel in the Knesset.
“Most Likud members and voters oppose the bill, so it’s hard for me to understand the party’s point of view,” Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman told The Jerusalem Post.
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi told the Post, “Kicking Sharren out of Likud is shameful and would be thrown out by any external court, even if a Likud court approved it.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said no one would remember Haskel’s vote when elections are held in 2019. In Monday’s Likud faction meeting, MKs Amir Ohana and Bennie Begin defended Haskel. Ohana said that kicking Haskel out of Likud would be “disproportionate punishment” and Begin said it would be ineffective.
Likud MK Oren Hazan took a different approach.
“She is not a Likundnik and she’ll never be,” Hazan said. “She doesn’t have our DNA. She came from Meretz and she belongs there.”
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.