Says will vote with coalition on 'family reunification law'

Rebel Yamina MK to toe line on most issues, giving coalition 62 votes – report

According to Kan news, though he voted against forming the coalition, Amichai Chikli will back most legislation sought by government; he does not confirm or deny the report

Yamina MK Amichai Chikli at the Knesset on June 22, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yamina MK Amichai Chikli at the Knesset on June 22, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In what could be an important boost to the nascent government, rebel Yamina lawmaker Amichai Chikli is set to change his tune and support most coalition legislation, Kan news reported Wednesday.

Kan said that in return for toeing the line, Chikli will be made part of Knesset committees and will not be declared a separatist MK, which would have greatly harmed his prospects of reelection by preventing him from running on any existing Knesset slate in the next election.

On votes where he does not intend to vote with the coalition, Chikli will be required to give advance notification.

Contacted by The Times of Israel, the MK did not deny the report, but said only that he would vote with the coalition on the so-called “family reunification law,” stressing, however, that if the coalition changed any of the terms, he may oppose the legislation. Chikli’s support would not be enough to pass it if several other MKs vote against.

The lawmaker added that he is still a member of the faction and will take every vote as it comes, and not automatically vote with either the government or the opposition.

With such a razor-thin majority for the coalition, a 62nd seat in the 120-seat legislature is significant. Crucially, it prevents any single MK from holding the government hostage to their demands.

The Knesset plenum during a special session honoring Jerusalem Day on May 10, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Most recently, the coalition has found it hard to reapprove the so-called “family reunification law,” legislation that has been renewed annually since 2003 and that prevents Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens from automatically getting citizenship.

Several MKs in the coalition, including in the Ra’am, Meretz and Labor parties, have threatened not to vote for its reapproval, calling it discriminatory.

Though right-wing opposition parties back extending the law in principle, they have nevertheless refused to step in to do so in the hopes of undermining and embarrassing the new government.

Talks within the coalition are ongoing in order to find a possible path to obtaining the necessary votes.

Chikli refused to vote with his party to set up the current coalition government, led by his own party’s leader Naftali Bennett, saying 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. The coalition was eventually approved by a vote of 60 to 59, with the Ra’am party’s Said al-Harumi abstaining over misgivings about Negev construction policies.

Tal Schneider contributed to this report.

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