Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s hopes for reelection took another blow on Wednesday as Likud MK Sharen Haskel announced she is bolting to join Gideon Saar’s New Hope party.
Haskel became the third Likud MK, besides Saar himself, to leave Likud in order to challenge Netanyahu in the upcoming elections, March 23. She will have the company of MKs Michal Shir and Yifat Shasha-Biton, who left Likud in recent days, as well as Derech Eretz MKs Yoaz Hendel and Tzvi Hauser, who have resigned from the coalition.
“When I joined Likud, I did so with the understanding that this was the most suitable party for me. I read Jabotinsky’s and Begin’s books and found expression of my worldview — Jewish state, settlement, liberal economy, strong democracy, statehood and especially unity among all sections of the people,” Haskel said. “There is a big gap between these ideas and the values and norms that characterize the Likud today.”
Haskel said that “above all, the current government has failed miserably in running the country, and has disgraced the trust given to it by the citizens of the country.”
“In these circumstances, my conscience does not allow me to continue to support this government, nor to be a member of the Likud under its current leadership,” she said. “Therefore, I intend to return my mandate to Likud, and resign from my membership in the Knesset.”
Haskel broke party discipline on Monday night by failing to vote for a bill that would have deferred a Tuesday midnight deadline for passing the 2020 state budget, thereby setting the stage for dispersal of the Knesset and a fourth in two years. Her absence helped to defeat the bill by a 49-47 margin.
MK Michal Shir voted against the bill, and then declared that she was leaving Likud to join New Hope.
Former minister Ayoub Kara, who was next on the list of the Likud’s candidates, will take Haskel’s seat in the Knesset.
Kara had a falling out with Netanyahu after he was denied a reserved slot on the Likud electoral list and then failed to receive appointment as ambassador to Egypt, which the prime minister reportedly had promised him.