Knesset Member Yuli Edelstein, a veteran member of the ruling Likud party, criticized the Netanyahu government’s controversial judicial overhaul plan on Monday.
Edelstein was absent from a crucial Knesset vote on a bill that would effectively strip the Supreme Court of Israel from its power to suspend a sitting prime minister. However, the Likud member reportedly informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of time of his absence.
The Knesset passed the first reading of the controversial bill with 61 in favor and 52 against.
Edelstein, who served in senior positions in several Netanyahu governments – including Knesset speaker – has emerged as a vocal critic and even political challenger of the incumbent prime minister.
While stating he believes that some judicial reforms are necessary, Edelstein has criticized the Netanyahu government’s handling of the issue and unwillingness to reach a compromise with the opposition.
The veteran Likud member warned his fellow party members that “the direction we’re going in will guarantee that this will be the reform for years to come.”
Edelstein said he believes that the political opposition could overturn the judicial overhaul in the future.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Likud official said the party was not surprised by Edelstein’s decision to abstain from voting.
“Edelstein’s abstention did not come as a surprise. He spoke with several senior Likud officials and informed them ahead of time that he would abstain,” said the official.
Meanwhile, Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar, a close Netanyahu ally within the Likud party, warned that the political opposition was better organized than the government coalition.
“They beat us because they fight as a team, they are organized, they fight on the field. And what do we do? We go with the events and hope for the best,” said Zohar.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.