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Coalition whip says she was physically harassed at gas station

Yamina’s Idit Silman, who has faced threats for joining coalition, says man ‘pushed me against the car’ after refueling: ‘I understood how dangerous words can be’

Yamina MK Idit Silman in the Knesset on November 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yamina MK Idit Silman in the Knesset on November 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Coalition whip Idit Silman said Saturday that she has continued to receive threats for backing the government and was recently physically harassed.

Silman, a member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party, faced protests and threats earlier this year when her faction teamed up with a disparate coalition of parties to form the unity government that toppled Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 consecutive years as premier. Netanyahu’s Likud and allied factions accused Yamina of betraying the right in joining a coalition that includes other right-wing, centrist and left-wing parties plus an Islamist faction.

“I still get [threats], but now less. Since Friday I’ve been getting congratulations,” Silman told Channel 12 news, referring to last week’s passage of the 2021-2022 national budgets.

Silman said there has been an “unending campaign” against her since Yamina agreed to join the government, including threats against her and her children.

She also noted that demonstrations have been held outside her home and said she was physically accosted at a gas station two weeks ago.

“A man grabbed me after I refueled at a gas station in Modiin and physically pushed me against the car,” Silman said.

MK Betzalel Smotrich and right-wing demonstrators at a protest against the unity government outside the home of Yamina parliament member Ayelet Shaked in Tel Aviv on June 3, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Asked if anyone had come to her aid in the central city, Silman said no one else was around when she was accosted.

“I understood how dangerous words can be. At that same moment I understood I needed to put everything aside and we need to pass the budget,” she said.

Silman did not say if she had reported the assault to police or the Knesset Guard.

In the interview, Silman denied rumors she could leave Yamina for Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.

“I’ll only run in Yamina. Naftali Bennett pulverized the coronavirus and succeeded in passing a budget,” she said.

Silman also projected confidence that the coalition would not unravel due to its ideological divisions, following the budget’s passage.

“We are galloping forward. Every week we have new challenges — to succeed in votes, to maintain the coalition,” she said.

Her remarks came as Bennett predicted Saturday that the government would serve out its term following the approval of the budgets. He also promised to hand off the premiership to Lapid in 2023 as agreed, denying reports he could renege on the deal.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speak at the Knesset, on September 2, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Knesset passed Israel’s 2022 budget early Friday morning, clearing the complex legislation’s last hurdle and capping a major success for Bennett’s unlikely ruling alliance.

Failure to pass the 2021 budget before November 14 would have resulted in the dissolution of the government and snap elections, the fifth in two years.

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