Likud ministers quarrel in cabinet: ‘Pathetic,’ ‘Bite me, moron, everyone hates you’

Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan and Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel trade unusually harsh barbs during weekly meeting

This composite image shows Likud ministers Galit Distel Atbaryan (L) and Gila Gamliel in 2023. (Tomer Neuberg and Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
This composite image shows Likud ministers Galit Distel Atbaryan (L) and Gila Gamliel in 2023. (Tomer Neuberg and Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Two ministers from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party exchanged heated accusations during Sunday’s cabinet meeting, calling each other names and hurling insults across the table.

The argument broke out between Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan and Intelligence Minister Galit Gamliel amid a proposal to fund an electronic monitoring system to enforce restraining orders issued against domestic abusers by scalping cash from various ministries.

During the discussions, Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter raised an issue in coalition agreements that was causing him complications with his cooperation with the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry, which is held by the far-right Otzma Yehudit party.

At some point, Gamliel complained that coalition agreements “exploited” the Likud party, an apparent reference to the significant demands made by other parties in order for them to join Likud in forming the current government, according to quotes leaked to Hebrew media.

“What are you getting involved for, be quiet,” freshman minister Distel Atbaryan retorted.

“Excuse me, don’t intervene in this,” the veteran Gamliel responded.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on June 18, 2023. (Amit Shabi/Pool)

“Bite me, you moron, no one in Likud likes you,” Distel Atbaryan shot back. “They hate you in Likud.”

Gamliel then quipped: “Where is your printer? Give it to me in writing.”

Sources said that tensions between the two began when Gamliel refused to allow cash to be transferred from her ministry to fund the electronic tagging.

Distel Atbaryan told Gamliel: “Don’t you understand that no one can stand you? You cling on with your fingernails, no one likes you.” She also described Gamliel as “a stone in the coalition’s shoe.”

“You are a pathetic minister,” Gamliel told her.

At that point, Minister for the Advancement of the Status of Women May Golan, also of Likud, weighed in against Gamliel, saying: “You should be ashamed. You voted for an opposition law and you are harming our bill.”

It was unclear which opposition bill Gamliel ostensibly voted for, but Golan may have been alleging that Gamliel supported the election of opposition MK Karine Elharrar to the Judicial Selection Committee last week, which was seen as an embarrassment for the coalition. Elharrar was elected 58-56, meaning at least four coalition members broke ranks to vote for her.

File: Likud MK May Golan visits MK Itamar Ben Gvir’s temporary office in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, February 14, 2022. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

Netanyahu reportedly tried to calm the situation, telling his cabinet: “I suggest avoiding personal attacks against ministers in the government and also against the opposition. If there is substantive criticism, say it — but avoid personal attacks.”

Netanyahu has based numerous election campaigns on personal attacks against rivals.

Distel Atbaryan later confirmed and continued the spat in a Twitter post.

“Gila Gamliel arrived late to the cabinet meeting, as usual,” she wrote. “Then she started yelling and screaming at everyone because we are all incompetent and only she has the solutions. As usual. And tried to undermine and create tension between the heads of the coalition. As usual. And blew apart the meeting just as she blew apart the faction’s meeting last week with screams and a dramatic door slam.”

“When I told her (not screaming, but certainly loudly) that she was a stone in the coalition’s shoe and that her behavior was pathetic, she suddenly started screaming that I was cursing her and even briefing reporters using wild imagination,” she continued.

“So yes, I stand behind every word I said: Gila Gamliel is a stone in the coalition’s shoe and her behavior is embarrassing (and worrying), to say the least.”

There was no public response on the matter from Gamliel.

Netanyahu’s office later told Hebrew media that the premier had spoken to Distel Atbaryan and Gamliel and “clarified to them that he is unwilling to accept such conduct.”

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