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Netanyahu to rebel Yamina MK: ‘You deserve deep gratitude, unlike your friends’

Opposition leader lauds Amichai Chikli after MK’s maiden Knesset speech in which he says he’ll work against ‘forces that seek to blur difference between truth and falsehood’

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu (L) addresses Yamina MK Amichai Chikli following the rookie lawmaker's maiden Knesset speech, August 3, 2021. (Screen capture: Knesset Channel)
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu (L) addresses Yamina MK Amichai Chikli following the rookie lawmaker's maiden Knesset speech, August 3, 2021. (Screen capture: Knesset Channel)

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu lauded renegade Yamina MK Amichai Chikli Tuesday, in an address welcoming the rookie lawmaker to the Knesset after the latter gave his official maiden speech in parliament.

“You deserve deep gratitude for your principled position, unlike your friends who have broken every single promise,” Netanyahu said of Chikli’s decision to vote against the new government headed by his party’s chair Naftali Bennett.

“You are deeply appreciated beyond this hall as well,” Netanyahu said in the traditional response to a maiden speech given by a veteran MK — and chosen by the newcomer.

Chikli voted against the establishment of the new coalition, which spans right-wing, centrist, left-wing and Islamist parties and has a razor-thin Knesset majority, even though it made his own party leader Bennett prime minister.

He subsequently said he would vote with the coalition on most matters, seemingly giving it a cushion.

In a major blow to the fledgling coalition, however, the Knesset last month failed to approve an extension of the contentious Palestinian family reunification law after Chikli cast the deciding vote against it.

Yamina MK Amichai Chikli at the Knesset in Jerusalem on July 7, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In his own speech, Chikli said, “I did not come here to rebel against anyone or the party, but to rebel against those forces that seek to blur the difference between truth and falsehood, and bring with them a culture of lies and deception.”

He said that “Judaism demands from us a balance between words and deeds and a willingness to pay prices.”

Chikli has said that the move to form a government with left-wing and Arab parties was a fundamental violation of Yamina’s promises to voters.

His decision effectively took the party’s parliamentary seats from 7 to 6, and the coalition’s total seats from 62 to 61.

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