With the new government in turmoil over the extension of the Family Reunification Law, an unexpected source of succor has emerged in the form of renegade Yamina MK Amichai Chikli, who broke with party discipline and voted against the formation of the current government, stressing that he would remain true to the promises he made to his voters and would continue to represent right-wing values.
According to a report on Kan Reshet Bet aired on Wednesday morning, Chikli has now decided that he will vote together with his party on the majority of issues and will function almost fully as a coalition member. The report added that the Yamina party has agreed that if Chikli has a problem with any specific vote, he will be requested to coordinate his moves in advance with the rest of the coalition.
In return for his acquiescence, Chikli will be included on his party’s list of those eligible for Knesset committee membership (which will therefore come at the expense of his fellow Yamina members) and will not be reckoned as having defected from his party – something that would have jeopardized his political future.
With regard to the contentious Family Reunification Law, Chikli is expected to vote with the majority of the coalition to extend the law that severely restricts the granting of Israeli citizenship to PA-Arab spouses of Israeli-Arab citizens. As of Wednesday morning, the Likud, the main party of the opposition, is still threatening to vote against the law’s extension.
MK Chikli confirmed the accuracy of the reports, telling Kan News that he will indeed be guided by policies rather than politics when it comes to Knesset votes, and will weigh each issue on its own merits.
Previous statements made by MK Chikli prior to the formation of the current government had suggested that Chikli would join the opposition, although the manner in which he would do so (by officially leaving his party or otherwise) was never made clear. “I will try to stop this process [of forming a government with left-wing parties],” Chikli told Kan Reshet Bet at the time. “If it doesn’t help, then it’s possible that there will be no other choice and I will leave the [Yamina] party. My problem isn’t with Labor or Meretz but rather with [Yamina] turning its back on the national camp and the boycotting of the largest party – Likud. It’s not true that everything possible was done in trying to form a [right-wing] government. Bennett did not make a serious attempt to reach out to [New Hope party head Gideon] Sa’ar and persuade him to join with the Likud,” Chikli alleged.