Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a nighttime telephone conversation with senior Likud figures, during which he responded to Minister Ze’ev Elkin's decision to leave the Likud and join Gideon Sa’ar's new party.
According to Kan 11 News, the conversation took place around midnight. Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch, Education Minister Yoav Galant and other senior members of the party took part, the report said.
During the conversation, the Prime Minister attacked Elkin and said, “No one will break us, Sa’ar's refugee camp is made up of people who have failed in politics. Elkin would not have survived in the Likud.”
Later in the conversation, according to the report, Knesset members and ministers read jokes about Elkin that were posted on Twitter and laughed at him together.
Elkin on Wednesday gave a televised statement in which he blasted Netanyahu and accused him of putting his personal interests ahead of the interests of the state of Israel.
“I have seen how, for Netanyahu, his personal interests override those of the nation,” Elkin accused. “We are heading to elections solely because you want to be the one appointing the state attorney so that you can influence the outcome of your own trial.”
Elkin also accused Netanyahu of effectively destroying his own party in an attempt to be its supreme and unquestioned leader. “You instilled fear into the party, fear of expressing criticism – you wanted to rule like a despot. I have no doubt that Likud members will now be running to the broadcasting studios to denounce me in the strongest terms – but behind closed doors, they say the exact same things about you as I am saying now.”
“In such a situation, I can no longer tell the citizens of Israel to vote for you, and I can no longer serve as a minister in your government,” said Elkin.