Israel was still shuddering from Zeev Elkin’s sudden departure from Likud and the latest version of “I accuse,” pointing the finger at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for sacrificing the country’s welfare to his own personal interests.
The shocking aspect of it was Elkin’s closeness to Netanyahu, typically described as a confidant and adviser.
“Folks, these are the men behind the words ‘sources close to Netanyahu’ that you’ve been reading for years. That’s why it’s big,” wrote Jerusalem Post political correspondent Gil Hoffman.
On Thursday morning Elkin formally submitted his resignation to Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, a senior Likud MK.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, also of Likud, told Army Radio: “I was surprised by Elkin’s move because I think he’s smart. Perhaps he also realizes that this is a road leading nowhere,” referring to Elkin’s decision to join Gideon Saar’s New Hope party. “We’ve been friends for many years and I’m disappointed that he didn’t speak to me before. Perhaps I would have convinced him otherwise.”
Likud MK Miki Zohar was less sentimental, claiming on Army Radio that Elkin was no longer a confidant, had been seen as “no longer trustworthy in the eyes of the prime minister, and in many cases undermined him.”
Zohar admitted, though, that he had been caught off guard by Elkin’s resignation and alliance with Saar.
“We didn’t expect Elkin to take this step and I’m very disappointed. It’s sad, because I don’t believe that it’s right to leave your home… There are always disagreements, but in the end, you do your dirty laundry at home,” said Zohar.
In Haaretz, Yossi Verter described how astonishing Elkin’s resignation speech was: “If we hadn’t seen Elkin, a bit pale, reading out the stinging text himself, we could have sworn that it was written by opposition leader Yair Lapid and not by a senior Likud politician, a government minister and a member of the security cabinet. The text sounded even more fantastic coming out of the mouth of one Netanyahu’s most gifted defenders.”
Early attempts to assess the ramifications of the resignation included Haviv Rettig Gur in Times of Israel, who is friendly with Elkin, writing that “Elkin’s decision reflects more than a single man’s political calculations. The ground is shifting within Likud. The mood has changed.
Verter wrote that with Elkin now the fifth Likud MK to leave, “the leakage from the ranks of Likud to Saar and his New Hope party is beginning to look a lot like a split.”