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After ousting him from Knesset, Bennett thanks MK Kalfon for his service

Yamina party denies claim that Yomtob Kalfon was sent packing on the demand of Ra’am’s Mansour Abbas

Yamina MK Yomtob Kalfon leads a Knesset Constitution Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on March 15, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Yamina MK Yomtob Kalfon leads a Knesset Constitution Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on March 15, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A day after arranging his ouster from the Knesset amid fears that he could jump ship to the opposition, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked outgoing Yamina MK Yomtob Kalfon for his service on Saturday evening.

“I want to thank MK Yomtob Kalfon… for his important service on behalf of immigrant absorption,” Bennett tweeted.

“Yomtob fought to absorb Jews from all around the world at the same time that he worked tirelessly on behalf of settlement in Judea and Samaria,” the prime minister added. “I am convinced that Yomtob will continue to fill central public roles and will still contribute greatly to the people of Israel and the State of Israel.”

On Friday afternoon, Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana announced that he would be resigning as minister and return as a member of the Knesset in order to “strengthen the coalition.”

The move will automatically oust Kalfon, who was the last Yamina MK to enter the Knesset under the Norwegian Law, which enables ministers to resign their seats to make way for new lawmakers in their parties.

Kalfon, a native of France, was reportedly seen as a flight risk from the government as the 60-seat coalition teeters on the brink of collapse following the defection of Yamina MK Idit Silman last month.

New Right party leader Naftali Bennett (left), Yomtob Kalfon and Ayelet Shaked (right) at a press conference February 19, 2019, announcing that Kalfon had joined the party list for the Knesset elections. (New Right Party)

Party sources said the move was coordinated between Kahana and Bennett and deliberately announced late Friday afternoon just before the start of Shabbat.

Army Radio reported on Saturday that Bennett offered Kalfon a variety of positions outside the Knesset in an effort to part ways on positive terms. According to the report, Kalfon has yet to decide if he will accept any of the offers.

Meanwhile, the Yamina party denied a report that Kalfon was ousted at the demand of Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas after the Yamina MK paid a visit to the Temple Mount on Independence Day.

Yamina called the report from Army Radio — which said that Kalfon had attempted to enlist Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked’s help to stay in the Knesset — “a complete fake.”

Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party has been the weak link in a fragile coalition, with two of its MKs elected to the slate either never supporting the coalition or resigning from it.

The first of these two, now-independent MK Amichai Chikli, was ousted from Yamina last month, and now faces potentially career-ending electoral sanctions.

The second, former coalition whip Silman, threw the coalition into a tailspin when she departed from it last month, reducing the coalition’s thin 61-seat majority to a 60-60 seat parity with the opposition.

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