Likud ministers who have bickered in recent days over controversial legislation united Thursday against the possibility of Ehud Barak and his Independence Party allies being given reserved slots on the Likud list in the next election.

Pinhas Wolf, the political correspondent for the Walla News website, broke the story two weeks ago that Netanyahu was working on a deal in which he would ask the Likud central committee to enable him to reserve slots on the list and in return additional slots on the list would be reserved for current Likud MKs.

Netanyahu, Barak and their aides have all denied the report and subsequent stories about a deal between the two. But Likud ministers and MKs are convinced that Netanyahu will still try to pass such a proposal, and they have become increasingly up front with their criticism.

“Barak is not an electoral asset but an electoral burden,” Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon said in a closed-door meeting at the Likud’s Tel Aviv headquarters that was revealed by Army Radio. “We don’t need to bring him in to undermine us from inside. We don’t need to reserve slots for people whose views are very different from ours on diplomatic issues and settling the land.”

Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein told The Jerusalem Post that he had been saying for weeks that Barak was a burden and that the only way he should be allowed to run for Knesset with the party was if Likud members would choose him.

“Likudniks know who is an asset and who is a burden,” he said. “If Barak thinks he’s such an asset, he could run and put himself to the test. But the polls all say that he can’t even get his party over the threshold.”

Edelstein criticized Barak for the many confrontations he instigated with residents of Judea and Samaria and for his record on international issues. “He has gotten Israel in trouble with the American administration on multiple occasions when he promising things he couldn’t deliver,” Edelstein said.

“The last thing we need is to give him a reserved slot on the Likud list.”

Both Ya’alon and Edelstein said they personally rejected advice to ask for reserved slots when they joined Likud, as did Bennie Begin and Dan Meridor when they rejoined the party.

Independence faction chairwoman Einat Wilf said she was thankful to Ya’alon for ruling out her party running with Likud. She said his statements would help Independence attract support from people who are skeptical that it would run on its own.

“I want it clear to everyone once and for all that our party is independent,” she said. “We’re not the Likud. We have different views.


“I don’t understand why they keep talking about us joining Likud. We have a base for support to at least win the five seats we have today, but people have been telling us that they like our ideas but they don’t believe we’re running alone.”

Wilf said it was in the interests of the Likud for the two parties to run independently because her party could attract support away from Kadima that the Likud could not.

Decisions about changes in the Likud bylaws such as initiating reserved slots will be voted on in the Likud central committee following the party’s January 31 internal election.

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