On Saturday evening, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett expressed his gratitude towards Yomtob Kalfon, the outgoing Yamina MK, for his service. This came a day after the premier arranged for his ousting from the Knesset amidst fears that he might be the next one to jump ship and join the opposition. Bennett tweeted that he wanted to thank the MK for the work he had done in regard to immigration adoption. The Prime Minister stated that Yomtob had fought for absorbing Jews from all over the world and had also worked tirelessly when it came to settlement in Samaria and Judea.
He added that he hoped the MK would continue to do central public roles and keep working for the State of Israel. Matan Kahana, the Religious Services Minister, had announced on Friday afternoon that he would be resigning as minister and would be returning as a member of the Knesset for strengthening the coalition. This move means the automatic ousting of Kalfon, who had been the last Yamina MK to come into the Knesset as per the Norwegian Law. This allows ministers to resign from their seats in order to pave the way for new lawmakers to enter their parties.
A native of France, Kalfon had been considered a flight risk from the coalition, as the 60-seat coalition is already rocky after Yamina MK Idit Silman, defected from it in the previous month. According to party sources, Bennett and Kahana had coordinated the move and had announced it deliberately late in the afternoon on Friday just before Shabbat was about to begin. Reports indicated on Saturday that Bennett wanted to part ways on a positive note with Kalfon, so he had offered him a number of positions outside the Knesset. However, Kalfon has not yet decided if he would accept any of them.
There had also been reports that Mansour Abbas, the head of the Ra’am party, had demanded that Kalfon be ousted, after the visit of the latter to Temple Mount on Independence Day. But, all such reports were denied by the Yamina party. Another report stated that Kalfon had tried to enlist the help of Ayelet Shaked, the Interior Minister, to stay in the Knesset, but this was also called a fake. The right-wing Yamina party of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has become the weak link in a coalition that is already very fragile.
This is because two of its MKs who have been elected either resign from it, or have not supported it at all. The first of these MKs was Amichai Chikli, who has become independent, had been ousted last month from the Yamina party, and could be facing career-ending sanctions. The second one was Silman, as the former coalition whip threw the entire coalition into a tailspin last month, when she eliminated the 61 seat majority it had in the Knesset. Now, the government and the opposition have 60 seats each and the coalition is struggling to stay together, as divisions continue to happen.