Yemina party member threatens to bolt, form a one-man faction

Knesset member Amichai Chikli objects to Naftali Bennett’s party joining a coalition with left-wing and Arab parties, says he will sit as an independent.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A member of Naftali Bennett’s right-wing Yemina party said Sunday that he may quit the party and sit as an independent if Bennett is sworn in next week as prime minister of a coalition government that includes left-wing and Arab parties.

Shikli is one of three members of Bennett’s party who had reservations about joining a government that will see Bennett oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and serve as prime minister for two years before being replaced by center-left Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid.

However, Yemnina members Nir Orbach and Idit Silman appear to have come to terms with Bennett sharing power with Lapid, going back on a pre-election promise to never do so.

Shikli said that if the government is formed he will not be able to support it and would thus be classified as a rebel within the Yemina caucus.

“If I will be declared a rebel Knesset member, the next option is to form a party by myself,” Shikli told Israel Army Radio, adding that sitting in opposition he would “try to do everything I can to advance the issues to which I have committed.”

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Shikli criticized his Yemina members for going back against the party’s commitments to its electorate.

“[The promises] were sharp, there is no way to turn them around,” Shikli said.

The former IDF combat officer said he did not accept the predictions made by other opponents that the Bennett-Lapid coalition would fall apart quickly.

“It could last two or three years. People have a lot to lose,” Shikli said.

Following the radio interview, Shikli tweeted a clarification that he had not yet quit Yemina.

“All I said this morning to Israel Army Radio is that to the extend that if I will declare as a departing Knesset member [from Yemina], I will not be able to run in any of the factions in the current Knesset, only in a new party,” Shikli said. “If such a party is formed I promise I will update, it has not happened yet.”