Likud ministers defend MK Haskel over refusal to support supermarkets bill
Ministers Gila Gamliel, Tzachi Hanegbi come out against MK David Amsalem's attempt to revoke Haskel's party membership; Netanyahu insists: 'Supermarkets bill, death penalty to terrorists must pass'; Haskel tells Ynet: 'Bill tries to change status quo, divides Israelis.'
Likud Ministers Gila Gamliel and Tzachi Hanegbi came out in defense of MK Sharren Haskel on Sunday after MK David Amsalem moved to oust her from the ruling party for her refusal to support the supermarkets bill.
"These are disproportionate steps. Many in the Likud Party think the same. This bill will cause great damage to the Likud," said Social Justice Minister Gila Gamliel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Gamliel, saying "There are three coalition votes that must pass: The supermarkets bill, death penalty for terrorists, and the budget."
Amsalem petitioned the Likud Party's internal court on Sunday to revoke Haskel's membership, arguing her declaration that she will not vote with the Likud Party in favor of the supermarkets bill constitutes assistance to rival parties and violates the Likud Party's decisions in the Knesset.
In an interview with Ynet, Haskel said she was not worried about Amsalem's move. "Don't pop open the champagne just yet. I'm not going anywhere. I was a Border Policewoman. Anyone who tries to fight against me will encounter a wall and a persistent fight," she said.
She reiterated that she does not intend to participate in the Knesset vote on the supermarkets bill, which is scheduled to go up for second and third reading later this week.
"This bill discriminates between one city and another. It forces a certain lifestyle on citizens and changes the status quo. But the worst thing about it, is that it creates division among the people of Israel. It once again brings up the discourse of secular versus Haredim," Haskel explained.
"I can't vote for it. This is a bill that contradicts our principles. It is a bill by a party that barely passes the threshold and is trying to reach some achievement at the expense of our public ... it has gone too far, all shame has been lost," she added.
Haskel rejected Amsalem's argument that she is breaking party rules, noting, "The rules are that I am a representative of the national liberal party, the Likud Party. There was no discussion in the party about the bill, and there was no vote on the matter."
She further argued the legislation violates not only the status quo, but also coalition agreements. "If anyone is breaking the rules, it's (bill sponsor and Interior Minister) Aryeh Deri. I don't believe they (Shas) will go to elections over something like this, certainly not at this time. This bill is something most Likudniks oppose, Likud mayors spoke against it."
The Likud Party's comptroller came out against Amsalem's petition. "Haskel's position does not contradict the Likud platform or the party constitution," said attorney Shai Galili. "There is no basis to file the petition, and its use to deter a Knesset member who wishes to act in accordance with their conscience is fundamentally wrong."
Galili added the fact the party's legal advisor submitted the petition on Amsalem's behalf was problematic, noting the legal advisor is not allowed to represent one member of the Likud in a petition against another.