Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will convene top Likud officials and advisers
on Sunday to strategize how to prevent residents of Judea and Samaria and other
hawks from obtaining too much power in the party.
More than 100,000 Likud
members will be eligible to vote on January 31 to elect members of the party’s
influential central committee. In the first three months after that race, the
committee is permitted to change the party’s constitution with a simple
majority, rather than the two-thirds majority required most of the
Likud's right gears up to fight 'Bar Ilan 2' speech
Rightists quietly taking over Likud
Netanyahu has done everything possible to delay the vote, which was
supposed to take place shortly after the 2009 general election. He went to
several courts, including the Supreme Court, to get the vote
Hawks in the party used the time to register as many Likud
members as possible in Judea and Samaria in an effort to shift the party to the
Right. Meanwhile, Netanyahu barely signed up any new members who would be loyal
Only three weeks ago did Likud MKs warn Netanyahu that he could
lose control over the party if he did not take immediate action. He began legal
proceedings to change the method of selecting central committee members, which
would require a court order to delay the January 31 vote again.
wants to change a party rule that sets the number of central committee members
from Judea and Samaria based on how many people in the region voted for Likud in
the last election. The rule was set when most of the settlers voted for parties
further to the Right, but in the last election, they voted overwhelmingly for
The result of the rule is that the Likud branch in Samaria
could end up having several times as many members as the branch in nearby Afula,
for instance. Between the members from Judea and Samaria and other hawks among
the Likud’s founders and from the Jerusalem branch, the party’s institutions
could become much more right-wing from January 31 onward.
“Bibi has a
real problem here,” a Likud activist said. “Because he fell asleep and
didn’t deal with the situation, the central committee could make things very
hard on him. He is losing control over the party.”
Were Netanyahu more
successful in getting loyalists into the central committee, he might have used
the key three months after the January 31 election to try to pass a proposal
enabling him to reserve slots for candidates he would choose for the next
He might have used that right to reserve slots for Defense
Minister Ehud Barak and members of his Independence Party.
In what could
make things even harder for Netanyahu, hawkish MK Danny Danon is expected to run
for the chairmanship of the Likud convention, which is what the central
committee is called for its key three months following its
election. Danon has vowed to prevent from Barak and his allies from
But Barak has repeatedly denied any intention of joining
Likud. The defense minister, who turns 70 on February 12, may end up deciding to
quit politics ahead of the next general election rather than try to lead his
Independence Party over the electoral threshold or enter the fray in the Likud.
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