MK Amichai Chikli, the renegade member of the Yamina party who has already made it clear that he will cast his vote against any alliance of his party with left-wing and center parties, told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday that when he originally made his sentiments clear, he had no expectation that any of his fellow Yamina MKs would follow suit.
“All the same, I did want to create a certain momentum in the hope that a right-wing government could still be formed,” he says. “It was also important to me to keep my word to our voters. After all, we ran on a very clear platform that we continually stressed, and as I see it, we are obligated to look our voters in the eye and tell them honestly that we kept our promises.”
Asked to comment on the allegation of Yamina party head MK Naftali Bennett that he made every effort to establish a right-wing government, and that when the efforts failed to bear fruit, he had no choice but to form a government with the Left, Chikli replies, “This obsession with ‘Anyone but Bibi’ and the boycott, the refusal to deal with thirty MKs [i.e. the Likud party -ed.] is absolutely awful, and I want no part of it. Why could the Blue and White party not join with Likud? What is this delegitimization of Likud voters? I see this as a radical, extreme development and I put the entire blame for what happened on them, those who imposed this boycott.”
Chikli insists that if the country were to be dragged into a fifth round of elections in the event that the center and left-wing parties failed to form a coalition, he would not be the one to blame, but rather, the “Crime Minister” movement that was determined from the outset to see Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ousted, no matter what the cost.
“They are the ones who got us into this mess. There’s a great deal of criticism of Netanyahu, and you’re free to flip through my Facebook page and see all the things I’ve written against him, including very harsh criticism, but at the end of the day, you have to accept the will of the electorate. That’s part and parcel of being a democracy. What I really wanted was a government to be formed that included Yamina, Likud, Blue & White, Shas, Religious Zionism – a government that represented the Jewish People.”
But of course at the end of the day, that didn’t happen. Instead, Yamina, barring Chikli, joined Yesh Atid and the left-wing parties – and the Crime Minister movement too. “Right, that’s what happened. Yamina was the party to hand the Crime Minister movement its victory.”
Despite this, however, Chikli maintains that he still has the greatest of admiration for his fellow party members, though he also insists that the choices he has made are the right ones and truly represent what Yamina stands for.
“One thing I will mention, however, is that we didn’t subject [New Hope Chairman MK] Gideon Sa’ar to any real public pressure,” he notes. “I didn’t hear our party being critical of New Hope. I didn’t hear Yamina’s leadership calling on them to reassess their approach and join a right-wing government. Maybe it was said behind closed doors but it wasn’t said in public. This should have been done, and since it wasn’t, it’s not accurate to say that ‘everything was tried’ in terms of efforts to form a right-wing coalition.”
We spoke with Chikli several hours before the expiration of Lapid’s mandate to form a government, when negotiations between the various parties to form a coalition had yet to produce concrete results, and Chikli still expressed hope that at the last minute, something would happen to torpedo their efforts.
“When it comes to a vote, I will vote ‘against,’ and afterward, on all other matters, I’ll decide on each issue on its own merits,” he says. “I don’t see any point in refusing to allow a government that has already formed to function.” Nonetheless, the coalition that has been formed, composed of parties from across the political spectrum, will be forced to contend with a large number of divisive issues that will strain its abilities to collaborate, and Chikli foresees a very complicated path ahead.