Netanyahu complains about rifts in Likud

PM criticized his faction colleagues for not showing enough support during Operation Protective Edge.

September 9, 2014 18:42
2 minute read.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu criticized his Likud party colleagues late Monday night for not showing enough support during Operation Protective Edge.

Speaking at an event for Likud branch heads at his official residence in Jerusalem, Netanyahu singled out “ministers and deputy ministers who attacked me during the operation.”

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His associates declined to explain whom he was referring to among the ministers, but among their deputies, Netanyahu is particularly angry with former deputy defense minister Danny Danon, whom he fired during the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

“The people of Israel saw how we led the way in taking steps on behalf of the country, and they understand that there is no party that can lead other than the Likud,” the prime minister told the party activists. “When the public sees a party that is divided, it turns in a different direction.

But when it sees a strong and united party, it supports it en masse.”

Netanyahu will host several more events with Likud activists in locations around the country ahead of the Rosh Hashana holiday that starts in two weeks. The events are intended to shore up his support inside his political base and gauge whether he should advance the next leadership race in the Likud, as he has with past party primaries.

The most controversial event is a pre-Rosh Hashana toast set for Monday in Petah Tikva, the same day the Likud central committee will meet in Ashkelon. Netanyahu’s associates accused Danon, who heads the central committee, of scheduling the event without consulting with the Prime Minister’s Office.

A high-ranking Likud source called Danon’s decision a “petty political maneuver that violated basic common sense and the norms of proper behavior.” He said prime ministers must be treated with more respect than Danon has shown Netanyahu.

Danon’s associates responded that he negotiated a date with Netanyahu’s office for months and that the Petah Tikva event was scheduled after Danon set the date for the central committee meeting.

They said the committee meeting could still be moved if Netanyahu offers an alternative date when he could come. They also noted that Netanyahu could attend both events on the same evening.

Sources in the Likud Knesset faction confirmed a report that Communications Minister Gilad Erdan is seriously considering an offer from Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman to become the next ambassador to the United Nations. The report said that current ambassador Ron Prosor had shortened his tenure and would leave in three months, and that Liberman had made the offer with Netanyahu’s blessing.

A senior Likud source revealed on Tuesday that there was a condition for Erdan to take the job. The source said his party would insist on a Yisrael Beytenu minister quitting the Knesset before Erdan would resign from the parliament.

If Erdan accepts the UN post, he would be replaced in the Knesset by the next candidate on the joint Likud Beytenu list, former MK Leon Litinetsky of Yisrael Beytenu.

That would leave the Likud with only 18 seats, one fewer than Yesh Atid. Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir of Yisrael Beytenu has offered to resign from the Knesset in order to enable Litinetsky to enter and still allow the Likud to have 19 MKs.

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