Silman from Yamina denies deal with Likud and says Bennett offered job to his competition

Yamina lawmaker Idit Silman denied on Thursday that her shock exit from the coalition the day before had been prompted by promises of a sweet concert in a possible future government, but said the current leadership was strongly courting her, offering ministerial posts including the post. Minister of Health Nitsan Horowitz.

Silman’s announcement on Wednesday sparked a shock in the political arena, leaving the government on the verge of collapse, intensifying opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid to return to the post of prime minister in 10 months and sparking speculation about other deputies who could potentially jump. .

According to Jewish media reports, Silman’s withdrawal from the coalition as a renegade MP was designed by Likud, who agreed to give her the post of health minister when the party forms the next government, and is now actively recruiting other coalition deputies from the right.

“I was not given any promises for the future. There are no agreements, ”Silman told The Times of Israel in an exclusive interview on Thursday. “On the contrary, I am offered everything to stay. I am offered the post of Minister of Health. But I will not go for it. “

According to Silman, she made the decision on her own, in the middle of the night. At 2 a.m. Wednesday, she got out of bed, told a non-political friend about her plan, strengthened herself, and called Yariv Levin, a close ally of Netanyahu’s coalition leader a year ago. she was leaving the coalition.

“I did everything myself,” she said. “I surprised everyone. Netanyahu too. They didn’t know I was going to make such an announcement. Nobody knew. They were shocked, but I am at peace with myself. “

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) and MP Idit Silman attend a state budget vote at the Knesset Assembly Hall in Jerusalem on November 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

“There was no agreement on accommodation [on the Likud electoral slate] for me. “Likud is ready to give me everything, but there is no agreement,” she said, denying any opportunism on her part. “I don’t need to give [cabinet] roles. I had a great job. I was a coalition whip – what else do I need? But that’s not the point. “

Her break came days after she publicly criticized Horowitz for his insistence that hospitals follow rules that allow the introduction of hamets, leavens banned by religiously preserved Jews during Easter. Many drew criticism, noting that as a coalition whip tasked with keeping lawmakers on one page, it has usually avoided public debate in a capricious alliance.

Horowitz, who will lose his ministerial post if Silman accepts the proposed proposal, declined to comment to The Times of Israel. The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Esh Atid leader Jair Lapid, who last spring joined a coalition of eight different parties from across the political spectrum and is due to become prime minister next year, defended a wide range of ideologies in government on Thursday and vowed to work to keep him alive , in his first public commentary after Silman’s announcement.

“Our greatest achievement was not the creation of a coalition that no one believed in. It was that Israel realized that people with different ideas – right, center, left – want and can come together for the common good, ”he wrote on Twitter.

“We will do our best to keep the government alive for a long time,” added Lapid, who will automatically become interim prime minister in the event of a new election. “We will do our best not to drag the country into more toxic and divided elections.”

Silman insisted that her problems with the coalition went far beyond the dispute with Hametz, in particular by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s use of the term West Bank to describe areas beyond the 1967 ceasefire, rather than Judea and Samaria, the biblical terminology loved by Jewish nationalists.

“Hamets was just the last blow. It was an erosion of Jewish identity, ”she said. “I saw it again and again. This is followed by the erosion of values. Prime Minister Bennett speaks of the “West Bank”, uh. If I’m behind the West Bank, I’ll join Ash Atsid. ”

Coalition MP Idit Silman (left) and Health Minister Nietzsche Horowitz attend a press conference at the Knesset on October 6, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

Leaving the coalition instead, Silman left the government with one lawmaker, embarrassed by the majority, although he can still try to stay afloat with only 60 MK. Opposition activists are said to be persecuting several other right-wing coalition lawmakers, including several from Silman and Bennett Yamin’s party, in hopes of either disbanding the coalition and calling new elections, or forming their own alternative government.

Despite the technical difficulties of changing the government through a no-confidence vote rather than an election, and the almost pre-Khanhak goal of attracting seven more lawmakers (the list of opposition Arab parties is not included in the coalition), Silman insisted it was possible to absolve anyone. if there will be new elections instead.

“If new elections are called, it is not because of me. You can create a right-wing government now, without any problems, ”she said. «[New Hope party leader] Gideon Saar will not cross the electoral threshold [to reenter the Knesset]. Yamina is in trouble. We can create a government. Bennett can be prime minister or defense minister and escape with Netanyahu. “

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a right-wing rally in Jerusalem on April 6, 2022 (Olivier Fitusi / FLASH90)

Silman confirmed reports that she had met with Abir Karai of Yamina – who was seen as the main target for desertion – who she said claimed to have agreements with other lawmakers who wanted to go but refused to participate in the maneuvers.

However, Kara told Kahn that while Likud offered him peace, the party would not be able to form an alternative coalition.

He said he had suggested to Silman and Amiha Chickley, another Yamina lawmaker who refused to work with the coalition, that they work together to form a new faction “and be the three critical fingers that will get everything we want in the existing coalition.” But he said the idea has not yet been implemented.

Yamin MP Nir Orbach, who, like Kara, met with Netanyahu on Wednesday, has indeed threatened to leave the coalition, saying that if the government does not repeal its plan to abolish subsidies for yeshiva students, it is convening a planning commission to approve plans to build 4,000 new homes. The West Bank and connecting illegal settlements to the grid, it will follow Silman and Chickley.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) with Foreign Minister Jair Lapid (center) and MP Abir Kara during a plenary session and vote on the state budget at the Knesset Plenum in Jerusalem on November 4, 2021. (Jonathan Sindel / Flash90)

He and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman later agreed to lift cuts in subsidies to kindergartens.

The move came a day after a Yamina official told The Times of Israel that Yamina had managed to “stop the bleeding” after Bennett held marathon talks with party lawmakers and other coalition faction leaders.

Demonstrating support for his party, which is collapsing, Matan Kahana, a non-Knesset minister, said on Thursday that he was lining up for a coalition.

In a Facebook post, Kahan attacked the opposition and said he “prays for the continued existence of this important government and is doing everything possible to make it happen.”

“We all knew we could not” fulfill our deepest ideological desires “within the grand tent coalition,” he wrote, but moved forward “to save Israel from where it was moving.”

Yamina MK Amichai Chikli in June 2021 (Olivier Fitusi / Flash90)

But on Thursday night, as a sign that the party was still trying to hold the line, it officially declared Chickley a defector, something it had previously avoided because it hoped to work with the MK renegade.

Thus, the party damaged Chickley’s ability to run in future elections or hold public office, and sent a message to others in the party that they might be next.

The rules of the Knesset do not allow a defector to participate in any faction currently sitting in the Knesset in the next election or to serve as a minister in another government.

Poster showing Yamina MK Idit Silman at a right-wing rally in Jerusalem, April 6, 2022 (Olivier Fitusi / Flash90)

The move could also push Kara, Chickley and Silman to create their own faction that broke away, protecting them from penalties.

Silman told ToI that she hopes to avoid the official renegade label.

“I don’t want to be declared a defector,” she said. “I didn’t run away.”

Silman’s full interview in Hebrew is available on ToI Zman Yisrael’s home site.

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