The knives are out in the Likud, with MKs ranking high on the party list
expressing disappointment on Sunday at not receiving ministerial positions, and
MK Reuven Rivlin possibly dropping out of the race for Knesset speaker after
losing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s support.
Rivlin, who was
speaker of the 16th and 18th Knessets, may not run for the position in the 19th
Knesset, as Netanyahu has yet to publicly indicate his support.
former Knesset speaker’s spokesman denied reports of a conversation in which the
prime minister told Rivlin that he would not back him. In fact, the spokesman
said, Netanyahu’s chief of staff Gil Shefer promised him on Thursday that the
prime minister wants Rivlin to be speaker.
Still, Netanyahu himself has
not said anything publicly, and “his silence speaks,” the spokesman
While Rivlin has yet to drop out of the Knesset speaker race, he
does not plan to fight the prime minister’s decision.
A Likud Beytenu
faction vote on the next Knesset speaker is likely to take place on Monday, and
the result will be brought to the plenum for authorization.
Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein has been campaigning to take Rivlin’s place
for several months, and expressed confidence on Sunday that he has a majority in
the faction and would win even if Rivlin stays in the race.
Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman supports Edelstein, and with him come 10 more
One high-ranking MK pointed out that Rivlin and Netanyahu often
disagreed, with the former speaking out against Likud-proposed legislation, and
that Rivlin may now be paying the price.
In a testament to Rivlin’s
popularity as Knesset speaker with lawmakers across the political spectrum, MK
Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) came out in support of Rivlin continuing in
the position, saying his rejection was reminiscent of the political television
drama House of Cards.
“This is sticking a knife in [Rivlin’s] back. It’s
a test for the representatives of ‘new politics’ like Yesh Atid and others, who
should get involved to make sure that Rivlin – with whom I have massive
diplomatic and ideological disagreements, but who has a courageous civil
philosophy – should not be dismissed in such a callous way,” Tibi
Meanwhile, the younger generation of Likud MKs, who ranked high in
the party primary – Ze’ev Elkin, Danny Danon, Tzipi Hotovely, Yariv Levin and
others – began to express frustration at reports that Netanyahu does not plan to
appoint any new ministers from within his party.
Danon expressed careful
optimism that he – ninth on the party list – could get a ministry instead of MK
Tzachi Hanegbi, 26th in the ranking, to whom Netanyahu promised a
“I hope the prime minister will consider the results of the
primary,” Danon said. “He needs to [go by the party list], because the Likud is
Danon called for Netanyahu to realize that there is a new
generation of lawmakers in the Likud, and that not all of the old guard should
be left in place.
“Netanyahu can’t ignore what Likud voters want,” Danon
MK Tzipi Hotovely, the highest-ranking woman in the Likud, attacked
Netanyahu’s intentions more directly, saying that he was making a
“It’s a mistake to go for old politics and recycling the old
list of ministers. At the end of the day, the public will look at the Likud’s
list and say, if the government doesn’t change, then why did we vote in the
primary? In a way, this shows lack of faith in the [primary] voting process,”
Hotovely told Galei Yisrael Radio.
She mentioned Culture and Sport
Minister Limor Livnat – 27th on the party’s 31-seat list – as someone who should
no longer be part of the government.
“Thousands of votes separate me and
Limor Livnat,” Hotovely pointed out.