Fire and brimstone was the order of the day during Monday’s meeting of the Knesset House Committee to discuss whether MK Amichai Chikli should be expelled from the Yamina party. Veins swelled, throats constricted, threats and insults filled the air. Side by side, compliments and praise also showered on the lawmaker. There were those who saluted him, and he saluted back.
Those who went out of their way to curse on the one hand and to praise on the other were the Likud lawmakers, the main beneficiaries of his ouster. If the move is disqualified by the courts, which is unlikely, he will seek to run or be given a place on the Likud list. One way or the other, it will come at someone else’s expense. After all, before the next elections there will be a party primary during which, according to Likud practice, about a third of the faction’s current lawmakers will be dropped in favor of new faces – those chosen by districts or by sectors.
The hypocrisy was evident to everyone, to the eulogizers and the eulogized. Chikli wore the face of a martyred saint, of a lone righteous man in his city. But he is really just a hitchhiker and an opportunist who stole a mandate not-for-him, a mandate that does not belong to him at all, but to the one who pulled him out of complete anonymity.
The correct comparison in this case is between him and Alon Davidi. The mayor of Sderot was given an honorable third place on the Yamina list. A day before the Knesset's swearing in ceremony, he quit the list. I will not lie to myself, he explained, I did not ask for this government when I joined Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked.
Any person with a drop of integrity would behave that way.
Chikli, however, chose another path of “values” (as he defines it in his distorted way) – to pretend that he was on board with the government, then immediately declaring he would act against it and vote against it, including against legislation favored by the right. He even voted against the state budget, thus supposedly breaking with his party colleagues.
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If he remains in the Knesset as a formally designated defector, he will have no choice but to run on a new list that is not now represented in the Knesset. In the past, he has talked about forming one with broadcaster Yaakov Bardugo and other Bibi-ists. A part of this ilk will only speak to a single kind of voter – the base of the Likud base. Four mandates are the upper limit.
The risk to the rightist-Haredi bloc is huge. Even today, it doesn’t have 61 seats according to any opinion poll. Starting from Monday, Chikli ceases to be Bennett’s problem and becomes Netanyahu’s.
Chikli is already history. Monday marked the peak of his political career. The message of his expulsion is meant for Idit Silman. If she behaves like him and votes time after time against the coalition, she will face the same fate. There will be no one for her to lean on, other than Netanyahu and his promises of jobs for her and her husband. But before that, she and her Shmulik may well find themselves facing a criminal investigation.
Let’s return to the committee deliberations: Social media was divided over whether it was a “neighborhood,” a “circus” or a “zoo.” But no, there are no neighborhoods like these. Every circus also has moments of lightness and laughter. And why insult animals in cages? The rampage and verbal violence of the opposition MKs (from the Jewish factions only), were of a different sort. The women of the Likud faction led the way. The following is a disgusting selection: "Political pig,” “culinary pork,” shouted Miri Regev at Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana, who represented Bennett at the session. May Golan, who can’t open her mouth without emitting a stream of effluent water, screamed, “You tin pot dictator, a zero from zero,” at Eitan Ginzburg, who did an honorable job of chairing the session with manners and tolerance. Orly Levy-Abekasis, the opportunistic fashion model and vote thief, chimed in with, “You’re a useful slave.”
As a reward for her services, Levy-Abekasis was invited to the afternoon program on Channel 12 news as an expert commentator on renegade status. Regev also received a suitable stage to air her views. It is for them and their kind that these programs exist. This is how Itamar Ben-Gvir got where he did.