Likud MK Yuli Edelstein
Likud MK Yuli EdelsteinKnesset spokesperson

Coalition whip and Likud party chairman MK Ophir Katz has informed fellow Likud MK Yuli Edelstein that he will not be permitted to submit bills or proposals or to speak on behalf of the Likud faction for three weeks of Knesset sessions.

The penalty is due to "breach of coalition discipline" after Edelstein failed to attend two votes on several bills in the government's judicial reform package on Tuesday evening.

Officials from within the Likud party stated that, "Yuli decided to abstain from a number of votes because he has begun to promote dialogue and is speaking out against the continued advancement of the judicial reforms, regardless of the calls for compromise made by the president and by many groups within society."

In a conversation with the Maariv newspaper, the Likud sources added that, "Edelstein's abstention did not come as a surprise, as he spoke with several senior Likud officials and informed them ahead of time that he would abstain from the two aforementioned votes. Those senior officials tried to convince him to vote with the coalition."

The sources also added that Prime Minister Netanyahu knew of Edelstein's intention to leave the Knesset during the voting in order to offset the absence of MK Sharren Haskel (National Unity), but did not try to talk to him or put pressure on him to reverse his decision.

Last night, a senior member of the coalition harshly criticized Edelstein's decision. "Yuli Edelstein has taken his first steps towards the Left and forgotten the voters who sent him to the Knesset to represent them. How sad that he prefers embracing the opposition over his loyalty to his own camp."