MK Shirley Pinto
MK Shirley Pinto Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Yamina MK Shirley Pinto has issued a scathing attack on her fellow party member MK Amichai Chikli, calling for him to be ejected from the party.

“If it was up to me, I would have called him out as a defector the moment he voted against the formation of the government,” Pinto said. “He is a virus in the Knesset,” she added. “He doesn’t represent anyone, he hasn’t achieved anything, and he’s just trying to gain stature from this wave of populism in the media.”

Responding to Pinto’s words, Religious Zionism MK Michal Waldiger addressed the Yamina party. “Tell me, Yamina women – have you lost it entirely? One of you tells a story about an attack and refuses to give details [referring to MK Idit Silman, who claimed to have been attacked but didn't file a police complaint]; another one slanders someone because they criticized her [referring to Ayelet Shaked]; and now a third one calls her colleague a virus, simply because he refused to toe the party line?

“Maybe you’d like to take a step back and serve as a personal example for other women – or are you going to continue with your policy of making leaks the whole time?” Waldiger wondered.

Last week, Channel 12 News reported that the Yamina party was on the verge of deciding to declare Chikli a defector, following his vote against the budget. Prior to that point, several party members had been in favor of cooperating with Chikli where possible, but his vote against the budget appears to have indicated to them that he has no intention of being cooperative. The budget passed despite his opposition, with the entire coalition other than Chikli voting in favor.

If Chikli is ejected from his party, it will have the practical effect of barring him from running with any existing political party in the next elections. If he wishes to continue to serve in the Knesset, he would have to establish or join a new party.

Responding to the report, Chikli said that he was no defector – it was, rather, party leader Naftali Bennett who had “betrayed his voter base and stolen their votes to gain power.”

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