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Rebel Yamina MK prefers gov’t with Islamist Ra’am over left-wing Meretz

Yamina MK Amichai Chikli explains why he opposes his party leader Naftali Bennett’s efforts to form a unity government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to assemble a right-wing coalition, and why he prefers the Islamist Ra’am party over the left-wing Meretz.

“This is one of the weightier decisions I’ve made. Just a feeling of unease that accumulated — a feeling that it’s not me, that I’m not whole with this,” Chikli tells Channel 12 news in an interview aired this evening.

Chikli acknowledges his decision has put Bennett in a tough spot. “I’m aware of this. I have no motivation to hurt them,” he says.

Asked why he doesn’t oppose a Netanyahu-led government propped up by Ra’am but is against a unity government with Meretz, Chikli says Israel’s Arab community is undergoing “interesting” processes.

Still, he says, “I’m not sure that [Ra’am leader Mansour] Abbas will fully admit that he recognizes Israel as Jewish and democratic.”

Interviewer Rina Matzliah then asks why he doesn’t have an issue with the anti-Zionist Ra’am party, but does with the left-wing Zionist Meretz.

Chikli says it’s because Meretz has a “boycott” on Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges. He insists parties should stick with what they campaigned on.

Chikli also says he won’t leave Yamina and that they are trying “to solve the conflict.”

He says Netanyahu called him to congratulate him on coming out against a unity government, but that he didn’t speak with the premier before this.

He also says he still isn’t sure how he’ll vote if a prospective unity government led by Bennett and Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid must be approved by the Knesset.

Yamina MK Amichai Chikli at the Knesset swearing-in ceremony on April 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitousi/Flash90)
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