MK Ze'ev Elkin
MK Ze'ev ElkinIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has allegedly been considering dismissing MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) from his position as coalition chairman, because Elkin signed a petition of Likud MKs opposed to a renewed housing freeze in Judea and Samaria. Netanyahu was reportedly thinking of replacing Elkin with MK Ofir Akunis. MK Akunis denied this.

Arutz Sheva's Chizki Ezra, who learned of the Prime Minister's alleged intentions, asked MK Elkin if he had heard about them too. Elkin would only confirm that there was “a rumor going around” in the Knesset to that effect.

According to Elkin, Akunis called him “in a rage” over the allegations and told that he was not interested in the position. “This could be a way of threatening me over the events of the past week,” Elkin opined. “This kind of threat does not scare me. I am unafraid. I went into politics in order to make a difference and one cannot make a difference if one is not prepared for confrontations. You cannot influence things as a Knesset member if you are not prepared to one day cease being a Knesset member.”

Elkin said that while he had had a serious falling out with the former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert when Olmert was in power and Elkin was a member of the Kadima party, his disagreement with Netanyahu is not of the same magnitude.

The petition against the proposed freeze was meant “to show the public, the prime minister and the ministers what the majority opinion is in the Likud faction,” Elkin said. “Most of the Likud's Knesset members oppose the freeze.”

"We are worried that Netanyahu is not sticking to his word and that is a very meaningful problem,” he intoned. However, “those who expect a split within the Likud are wrong. Nothing good comes from splitting."

All Knesset members who signed the petition did so despite serious pressure not to, especially MKs who are committee chairpersons, deputy ministers and ministers, who have much to lose if the Prime Minister turns vindictive, Elkin explained. These MKs “deserve a citation of merit,” he added.