The Likud shifted rightward Monday when it elected a Knesset list made up of fierce opponents of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be followed on the list by the same upand- coming young politicians who were second and third on the Likud list last time – Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan. Ministers Silvan Shalom and Israel Katz round out the party’s top five.
Likud hawk Danny Danon, who as a freshman MK in the current Knesset surprised many by winning the sixth slot, followed by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon, coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin, MK Yariv Levin, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, and MK Haim Katz, who is considered a political power-broker in Likud.
Four women will be in the Likud’s top 20 candidates: MKs Tzipi Hotovely and Miri Regev, Deputy Minister Gila Gamliel and Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat.
Realistic slots on the list also went to Likud activist Moshe Feiglin, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, former minister Tzachi Hanegbi and Netanyahu’s former aide Ophir Akunis.
The only Likud candidate in the top 20 who supports the creation of a Palestinian state, asides from Netanyahu himself, is MK Carmel Shama- Hacohen, who is 20th on the list.
Notably absent from the list will be Minister-without- Portfolio Bennie Begin, who narrowly missed a realistic slot, Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor and Minister-without-Portfolio Michael Eitan.
Feiglin expressed joy that he will finally be entering the Knesset after trying twice before and being blocked by legal challenges initiated by Netanyahu. He credited his decision to tone down his rhetoric and work within the system in Likud rather than try to take it over.
“I changed my style but not my values,” Feiglin said. “The journey I began when I said that this is our land will continue now from inside the parliament. My values have gone into the Likud through the front door, enabling us to defend Israel from its enemies and make it into a state of Jewish freedom.”
Sa’ar and Erdan came in together with big smiles on their faces and were immediately thronged by their supporters who kissed and embraced them.
The victory of the hawks came despite polling stations in Judea and Samaria opening late. When the Likud’s election committee extended voting there by an hour, the party’s administration decided to add an extra hour in polling stations across the country.
Only seven percent of the Likud’s 132,000 voters came out for the second day of voting that was held due to computer glitches the previous day. The final voter turnout was about 59 percent.
Rivlin said: “The system is not good but no system is better.”
Netanyahu suffered a blow in that economist Shlomo Maoz, whose candidacy he promoted, did not win a realistic slot on the list, losing a slot reserved for a candidate from the Dan region to Petah Tikva Likud activist Uri Farej.
The Likud’s political opponents denounced the list as overly hawkish.
“The liberal Likud has lost its soul,” Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said. “It is scary to imagine what would happen if the Likud will remain in power.”
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich called on Likud voters whose top priority is the socioeconomic issue to switch allegiance to Labor due to the makeup of the Likud list.
Top 20 Likud members
1. Gideon Sa'ar
2. Gilad Erdan
3. Silvan Shalom
4. Israel Katz
5. Danny Danon
6. Reuven Rivlin
7. Moshe Ya'alom
8. Ze'ev Elkin
9. Yariv Levin
10. Yuli Edelstein
11. Haim Katz
12. Tzipi Hotovely
13. Miri Regev
14. Moshe Feiglin
15. Yuval Steinitz
16. Tzachi Hanegbi
17. Limor Livnat
18. Ophir Akunis
19. Gila Gamliel
20. Carmel Shama-Hacohen