Likud officials have recently expressed concern that party members might “switch sides” and join one of the other factions comprising the coalition, Yisrael Hayom reported.
“This is the first thing the coalition will do as soon as the state budget is passed,” one Likud official said. “Once the budget passes, the common conception will be that there are no more threats to the government and that it will last. The coalition will then turn to members of the opposition, especially the Likud, with proposals that might be attractive, while the alternative is the dull opposition. They will tell them about the end of the Likud era, that instead of disappearing they can join the government and become leaders in Israeli politics.”
Some Likud officials were convinced Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar has been planning such a move for a long time.
“Only last July, Sa’ar passed a law that allows four MKs to split from their faction, even if they make up less than a third of it. This didn’t happen for no reason, this was his goal. Sa’ar is not in the Likud anymore, but he still has connections and friends here,” another Likud member said.
“The coalition is desperate for more members, it cannot keep functioning by a majority of one vote alone for much longer. They need more members. With [Religious Zionist Party leader Betzalel] Smotrich and the Joint Arab List, they stand no chance. Likud is their only option, and they will try their utmost with this.”
Likud members went as far as to name three “potential suspects” who might leave Likud and join the coalition: David Bitan, Chaim Katz and Etty Atia.
“Bitan and Katz are both close friends of Sa’ar,” the Likud source explained. “Bitan even tried to offer proposals to Sa’ar on behalf of Likud in the coalition negations, and Katz supported Sa’ar in the primaries and attended his conferences. And Etty Atia is Katz’s confidant.”
Party insiders estimated the coalition might even go as far as finding a fourth Likud MK to allow the members to leave the party.
“True, this sounds like a wild and imaginary scenario, but we have already seen avid Likud members like Sa’ar and [Ze’ev] Elkin leave the party. Israeli politics has taught us that anything is possible.”
Bitan rejected the report as “nonsense and made up.” Katz said that under no circumstances would he leave the Likud.
Atia said, “It amuses me even to deny the allegations. The Likud has been my home since I was a young girl… There is no substitute, and experience shows that everyone who has left their home regretted it afterward.”