A Yamina lawmaker briefly left his faction’s WhatsApp group on Wednesday, after angrily branding the members of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s right-wing platform “a party of idiots.”
Yamina MK Abir Kara later rejoined the group after being mollified by his colleagues, according to Channel 12. Kara was also invited to a meeting with Bennett to resolve the matter.
The dispute centered around Kara’s contention during a Knesset hearing earlier Wednesday that fining businesses that aren’t accessible to people with disabilities was akin to “communism.” His colleague, Yamina lawmaker Shirley Pinto, slammed his comment on Twitter, calling it “cheap populism.” Pinto is herself hard of hearing.
Kara is a champion of small businesses and entered the Knesset after becoming a leading figure in a group advocating for the rights of such enterprises.
The disagreement between Kara and Pinto spread to the party’s internal messaging group, leading to his outburst.
“A party of idiots,” griped Kara before leaving the group. He later returned.
Following the meeting with Kara, Bennett said it’s “healthy that we have a party of people with principles that burn within them, and they are fighting for them.
“Glad that everyone internalized the need to be patient and cooperate toward the common goal,” the prime minister added, according to Hebrew-language media reports.
The incident comes amid increased tensions in the coalition of right-wing, left-wing and centrist parties, as well as an Islamist one. The narrow governing coalition must pass a 2021 budget by November 14, and Bennett and other ministers have warned against rocking the boat in the run-up to that vote. If the much-delayed budget — it would be the first state budget to be approved in over three years — does not pass by the deadline, the coalition will automatically dissolve, triggering new elections.
The coalition will need all of its lawmakers on board to approve the budget.
The coalition has recently been strained by the approval of thousands of new settlement units and the designation of six Palestinian civil society groups as terror organizations. Those decisions have been met with outrage by the left-wing flank of the government.
The government formed in June was nicknamed the “change government” because it ousted the Likud party’s Benjamin Netanyahu from power, pledging to change the political discourse and only advance moves agreed upon by all of the disparate coalition parties.