Netanyahu aims to ease Likud primary election fight
PM considers changing party rules to enable current ministers and MKs to get reelected; several ministers may be left off next Knesset list.
Netanyahu votes in Likud primary Photo: REUTERS
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is considering changing the rules inside his
Likud party in order to enable more of the party’s current ministers and MKs to
make the next Knesset, sources close to Netanyahu said
According to the party’s current rules, the 27 Likud MKs must
compete for the first 19 slots on the party’s Knesset slate. The next dozen
slots are reserved for new candidates representing different regions and
The Likud Central Committee will meet next Wednesday at the Tel
Aviv Fairgrounds for a convention that will decide the date for the Likud
primary and what changes should be made to the system for deciding the party’s
Netanyahu's associates said he may decide to start the reserved
slots later on the list or to have fewer regions and sectors to make it easier
for ministers and MKs to get reelected.
Besides the 27 Likud MKs, former
minister Tzahi Hanegbi is running and current Home Front Defense Minister Avi
Dichter may decide to join the race. It is also possible that Likud activist
Moshe Feiglin could win one of the slots rather than a current
Feiglin, who in the past acted as a kingmaker for politicians in the
party, decided to instead focus on getting himself elected. His Manhigut Yehudit
ideological group will not endorse candidates or campaign against any
In the past three elections, Netanyahu used legal action and
political maneuvers to prevent Feiglin from entering the Knesset. Feiglin
expressed optimism that Netanyahu has learned from past experience that blocking
him did not end up helping the Likud.
“I very much hope the prime
minister does not fight me this time,” Feiglin said. “I have gotten the
impression that he realizes that I can bring a lot of mandates to the Likud. The
Likud already knows that the political reservoir of available votes are not in
the crowded Center but on the Right.”
A battle is expected in the party
over the top slots after Netanyahu, which could determine who will be senior
ministers in the next government.
In the last election, they were won by
Gideon Sa’ar and Gilad Erdan, who were rewarded with portfolios.
premiers Moshe Ya’alon and Silvan Shalom, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin,
Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, and Hanegbi see themselves as contenders
for the top slots.
Hanegbi, who recently returned to Kadima, could be
rewarded for returning to his former political home or punished for defecting
seven years ago.
Rightist groups inside Likud other than Feiglin’s may
try to prevent the reelection of dovish ministers Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan.
Forums in Likud representing the weakest sectors of the population intend to use
the election to try to punish Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz for his economic
Two of Steinitz’s advisers have decided to run in the race: His
chief of staff David Sharan and his economic adviser Avi Simhon.
remained to be seen Wednesday night whether any of the Likud’s current
politicians decide to follow former minister-withoutportfolio Yossi Peled and
quit politics rather than compete in the race for the logjammed Likud list.