All types of political drama are being played out in Israel on Wednesday as parties scramble to finalize their lists before the 10 p.m. deadline to register parties at the Central Elections Committee.
One political twist that played out centered on the Ethiopian vote and the drama ended in Ethiopian Blue & White MK Gadi Yevarkan being ousted from Blue and White, to the Likud’s delight.
Thousands of Ethiopian-Israeli voters are thought to have abandoned Likud in the September elections following the widespread riots after the death of Solomon Tekah, who was shot by a police officer. Although the police officer shot the bullet in self-defense at the ground and it unfortunately ricocheted and killed Tekah, the incident caused an outpouring of anger at the police and the government by the Ethiopian community. At the time, Yevarkan condemned the treatment of the Ethiopian-Israeli community by Likud and Netanyahu.
In an attempt to win back the Ethiopian vote, Netanyahu offered Yevarkan the 20th spot on the party’s list if he would join Likud, guaranteeing him a place in the Knesset. Yevarkan, who was a Likud member in the past but didn’t make it into the Knesset was tempted by the offer since he is currently in the 33rd spot on the Blue & White list, a spot that doesn’t guarantee his entrance into the Knesset.
Yevarken told Blue & White on Wednesday that if they don’t move him up to a higher spot on the list he is joining Likud. Blue & White chairman Benny Gantz responded to the threat by announcing that he is ousting Yevarken from the party. Shortly later, Likud confirmed that it is granting the 20th spot on its list to Yevarken.
A picture of Yevarken kissing his mother’s feet in a traditionally Ethiopian gesture of gratitude when he was first elected into the Knesset in April received widespread attention at the time.
“I swore allegiance to the state of Israel as a Knesset member,” Yevarkan wrote on Facebook at the time. “I was so moved today to see my mother at the Knesset. Words can’t describe her nobility.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)