A Knesset member in opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party pushed back against the former prime minister on Monday following a rebuke for saying that the Arab-majority Ra’am party could join a Likud-led government following elections later this year.
In an interview on Sunday, lawmaker David Amsalem said he was open to including the “anti-Zionist” Ra’am in a potential coalition that already held a majority of Knesset seats without it.
The comments were quickly disavowed by Likud and Netanyahu, with the former prime minister saying he was “dumbfounded” by Amsalem’s remarks and that they represent “his opinion only”.
Amsalem and at least one Likud colleague have made similar statements in the past year, without pushback from Netanyahu.
Netanyahu is thought to have made efforts to form a coalition with Ra’am last year, with the plan thwarted by his far-right allies in the Religious Zionism party, who refused to join a government alongside Islamists.
“Some Likud members attacked me. What did Netanyahu himself do? He put out a statement to hurt me”, Amsalem said in a radio interview.
“I don’t accept that someone is trying to hurt me over nothing, including Netanyahu”.