Pinchas Idan, Chairman of the Airports Authority Employees Committee, on Tuesday, admitted the strike he announced on Monday––which was one of the factors that pushed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to capitulate and suspend the judicial reform––was illegal.
Speaking to Kan 11 reporter Michael Shemesh, Idan confessed: “I had to respect the chairman of the Histadrut. If I had known it would last a long time, I would have shortened [the strike] to an hour or an hour and a half. I understood that it would be an hour to an hour and a half. We were waiting for the Prime Minister’s press conference, which did not happen.”
Netanyahu’s announcement, which was scheduled for 10 AM on Monday, was delayed from one hour to the next for a full 11 hours until the PM finally appeared before the nation and suspended the legislation.
Idan, who is a member of the Likud party, even suggested to all passengers who had been affected by the strike: “Go to court, file a lawsuit against me and the Histadrut, and whatever they decide, I will accept.”
It remains to be seen whether the Histadrut national trade union Chairman Arnon Bar-David (whose elbow can be seen in the video above) was within his rights when he announced a nationwide walkout without proper warning and without consulting with his members. The strike, which paralyzed the country, was a stunning ultimatum to Netanyahu, who ended up blinking first.
Of course, there were also rumors that the strike had been fixed by Netanyahu and the union leaders to provide him with an excuse to suspend the legislation with which he was never enamored.
According to Idan, “I announced [the airport strike] because the chairman of the Histadrut requested it. The Histadrut is above us. But if I say that the strike was legal, I’d be lying.”
He also shared his thinking at the time “if he ordered me, he must have checked it. I am someone who, when I receive an order, I cannot refuse. I’m in favor of the reform.”
There’s a whole lot more to this story, including the fact that no Likud bigwig has gone after Idan for essentially betraying his party and the prime minister – though several newer Likud ministers and MKs have.
It turns out that like several other Likud officials who hold key positions in the country’s economy, Pinchas Idan is also a major vote broker during the Likud primaries, and if Likud candidates are not on his preferred list, they end up being placed in unrealistic slots on the Likud election list.
So, no one big in the party wants to pick a fight with Idan, even if he took part in torpedoing their key legislation of the entire Knesset winter session.
According to Kan 11, the Histadrut leadership and the PM’s office were in constant communication on Monday, and Chairman Bar-David was updated regularly on Netanyahu’s expected announcement.