Meretz seeks to disqualify Chikli’s Likud bid, days after petitioning against Silman

Left-wing party bases petition on former Yamina MK’s failure to quit Knesset soon after voting against the the government led by his party

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

MK Amichai Chikli at the Knesset House Committee hearing on Yamina's request to declare him a 'defector' from the party, on April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Amichai Chikli at the Knesset House Committee hearing on Yamina's request to declare him a 'defector' from the party, on April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Meretz party filed a petition to the Central Elections Committee on Wednesday to disqualify former Yamina MK Amichai Chikli from running with the Likud party in the upcoming election.

Meretz charged that Chikli should be disqualified from running with another current party since he should be sanctioned by section 6a of Basic Law: The Knesset for not quitting the Knesset shortly after he left Yamina.

Although elected to the Knesset with Yamina, Chikli estranged himself from the right-wing party last June in opposition to its leading a big tent coalition of parties, including an Islamist Arab party. Ten months later, he was formally ejected from Yamina in April and resigned from the Knesset in July, after reaching a deal with the Jerusalem District Court to remove his election sanctions if he were to immediately quit.

Meretz MK Gaby Lasky, who filed the petition on behalf of her party, released a statement in which she said that Likud “continues to undermine the rule of law and pollute the governing system with its [placement of candidates in reserved spots].”

Chikli was placed in the 14th spot on Likud’s Knesset roster last week, alongside fellow former Yamina MK Idit Silman in slot 16. Meretz filed a petition to disqualify Silman under Section 6a on Monday.

The rule states that a member of Knesset who leaves his party cannot run in the upcoming election with a sitting party, unless he resigns from Knesset close to the departure. Quitting a party includes voting against the party’s position on confidence in the government, which Chikli did multiple times, starting with the vote to swear in the government headed by then-prime minister and former Yamina head Naftali Bennett.

Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu poses with candidates he added to the Likud Knesset slate: (from left) Yossi Fuchs, Tsega Melaku, Idit Silman, Moshe Saada, and Amichai Chikli, September 14, 2022. (Courtesy)

Meretz’s petition claims that Chikli voted 670 times against Yamina’s position in the past year, although the majority were not connected to no-confidence votes.

Lasky said that the section 6a amendment, introduced in 1991, “was enacted in order to prevent the purchase of power in exchange for a reserved spot [on another party’s candidate list] and favors.”

The law exempts lawmakers who do not receive anything in return for their votes of confidence against their party’s line.

In addition to claiming that Chikli functionally quit Yamina by voting against its position on confidence in the government, Meretz also claims that Chikli should have quit the Knesset shortly after his April ousting from his former party.

The law is vague on when an MK labeled a “defector” from his party must quit to avoid personal sanctions blocking an election run with another sitting party, stating only that resignation must be “close to” to the ouster.

Likud is poised to retain its title as the Knesset’s largest party, consistently polling over 30 seats. Chikli is expected to rejoin the Knesset in November, if his candidacy is not rejected by the Central Elections Committee.

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