Likud must cancel its primary system, which gives interest groups – specifically settlers – disproportionate power, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

However, a senior party source pointed out that residents of Judea and Samaria made up only about seven percent of primary votes, and do not have the impact many portray them as having.

“There is no doubt that the primary system, which I clearly supported in the past, and was meant to let the broader public participate in the democratic process, has turned totally undemocratic, and twists what voters want,” Livnat wrote.

Livnat, who got the 18th slot in the Likud primary and is 27th on the Likud Beytenu joint list, was once known as “the First Lady of the Likud,” for consistently being the party’s top female MK, but is now the third, after Tzipi Hotovely and Miri Regev.

Earlier this month, Netanyahu told close allies he would like to replace the Likud primary system with a selection committee, because, he said, people who do not vote for the Likud determine its list for the Knesset, and that pressure groups have nearly taken over the party.

Livnat pointed out in her letter on Wednesday that 2,800 Likud members were also members of the Bayit Yehudi, and 458 of those double members voted in the Likud primary in November.

It is illegal to be a member of more than one party and, according to the law, it is the individual’s responsibility to leave a party when he or she joins another.

In November, The Jerusalem Post exclusively reported that the National Camp, a settler pressure group within the Likud, sent out an email encouraging party members who recently joined the Bayit Yehudi to vote in the Likud primary. Following the investigation by the Post, the group canceled its call, pointing out that it is illegal to vote in two parties’ primaries.

Livnat also cited numbers reported first by the Post in January, that in 12 settlements in Judea and Samaria, there are more Likud members than people who voted for the party in the general election.

For example, there are 321 members of the Likud in Shiloh, where the National Camp’s leaders live, but only 127 people voted for Likud Beytenu. In Beit El, only 212 out of 576 Likud members voted for the party, and in Elon Moreh, 96 of 216.

At the same time, the 185,000 eligible voters in the West Bank in the last election are worth about six seats in the Knesset, and only 30,600 of them, worth about one mandate, went to Likud Beytenu, which has 31 members in the new Knesset.

Of Likud’s 127,000 members, 10,000 live in Judea and Samaria, and 2,000 of those live in Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim, where a total of 12,384 people voted Likud.

A Likud source estimated that about 5,000 of more than 70,000 votes in the party primary in November came from Judea and Samaria, so that when it comes to the numbers, settlers do not have a major influence. He said the same of pressure groups, pointing out that MK Haim Katz, who was thought to control the votes of thousands of members in the last primary, did not break the party’s top 10.

A Likud source estimated that about 5,000 of more than 70,000 votes in the party primary in November came from Judea and Samaria, so that when it comes to the numbers, settlers do not have a major influence. He said the same of pressure groups, pointing out that MK Haim Katz, who was thought to control the votes of thousands of members in the last primary, did not break the party’s top 10.

In addition, the source said the votes in Shiloh, Beit El and other settlements reflect a pattern in small towns, explaining that, for example, there are often more Likud members in Druse villages than general election votes for the Likud.

“I condemn the phenomenon of members who vote for another party, but Likud members in cities in Judea and Samaria, like Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim, are legitimate,” he stated.

Livnat also pointed to recent accusations by vote contractor Avichai Amrusi – who was allegedly paid by MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) – that several prominent Likud MKs also paid him for votes.

MK Danny Danon (Likud Beytenu) denied that there is a problem with vote contractors in the party, pointing out that one must be a Likud member for 16 months and pay dues twice before being able to vote in the primary.

“We don’t know when the election will be, so it’s impossible for vote contractors to bring in large amounts of members for the primary,” Danon explained.

Livnat concluded her letter by writing: “Mr. Prime Minister, we cannot continue like this. It is our responsibility as a public movement to stop this wheel from continuing to roll farther and farther downhill. I ask you to gather the Likud central committee immediately after the coalition is formed, and demand from ministers, MKs, chapter leaders and members to show responsibility and fix the party constitution in a way that will cancel the current primary system.”

Livnat suggested that the Likud form a committee to find an alternative to the current primary system that will allow the party to pick the “best and most attractive list” ahead of the next election and avoid “criminal phenomena and interest groups” from having undue influence.

Danon, sixth on the Likud list and ninth in Likud Beytenu, denounced Livnat’s suggestion, saying “a number of people who didn’t succeed in the primary now want to change things.”

“The primary system isn’t perfect, but it’s the best way to let the members express what they want for the party,” he stated. “Still, it’s legitimate to call a central committee meeting to try to improve the system.”

As for the idea of a selection committee, Danon said it is “undemocratic to have three people choose the list, and it will not pass in the Likud.”

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