The Likud Central Committee approved the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu merger on Monday
night in a landslide victory for Prime Minister Binyamin
Despite staunch opposition from Government Services Minister
Michael Eitan, who worked until the last minute to try to move the vote to a
secret ballot, the vast majority of the central committee members raised their
hands in favor of the deal, all the while chanting “Bibi, Bibi.”
approved deal consisted of few details. Only that Likud and Yisrael Beytenu
would run together on a joint list, which would be proportionate to each party’s
current size: 27 and 15 seats, respectively. In addition, Likud candidates on
the list will be chosen via a primary vote.
“Today we are voting for a
strong Likud and a strong prime minister,” Netanyahu told the crowd to
“The union will allow us to continue leading with strength
[and] keep our party national and liberal – for Ashkenazim and Sephardim;
traditional, religious and secular; new immigrants and old; minorities and
majority; because Likud is everyone’s home.”
Netanyahu referred to rumors
that Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman would succeed him, saying, “I heard talk
of inheritances in recent days.”
“I have news for everyone: I plan to
lead Israel for many more years, as will Likud,” he added.
minister also promised to work to protect Israel’s security and economy, as well
as to lower the cost of living and housing.
The vote passed immediately
after Netanyahu’s speech, and the prime minister gave Communications Minister
Moshe Kahlon – who presided over the meeting and recently announced he is not
running in the party primary – several hugs, telling him, “Moishe, you were born
in Likud and you will stay in Likud.”
Following the vote, Liberman said
the joint list is a “historic step that will strengthen the State of Israel and
its experienced, united leadership.”
“The united ‘Likud Beytenu’ will
allow a stable, strong government to be formed after the election that will be
able to deal with the challenges Israel faces,” he added. “It will bring back
governance and increase internal and external power.”
Labor leader Shelly
Yacimovich said Netanyahu and Liberman seek “power instead of responsibility,
power instead of leadership, power instead of solidarity and power instead of concern for
She added that their union is “extremist and brutal,” and that
Labor is the only alternative.
Eitan, who only managed to get the
requisite 400 signatures to have the vote by hidden ballot shortly after the 6
p.m. deadline, said he accepts the democratic decision.
“Some say this
will be good for my primary campaign, some say it’ll be bad, but at least I did
what I believed in,” he said. “I have been an active Likud member since 1966,
and I always spoke my mind.”
Likud members could announce candidacy in
the party primary until Sunday night, and have several days to appeal the
According to the party list obtained by The Jerusalem Post,
there are 112 candidates for, according to recent polls, 22-27 expected Likud
There are 36 candidates for the national list, which consists of
seats 2-21, and after that, each spot on the Likud is saved for a different
district or population group.
Eleven candidates are running for the new
immigrants’ 21st and 30th spots on the Likud list for the 19th Knesset,
including coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin, who had previously said he would run
on the national list and MK Aleli Admasu, who was sworn into the 18th Knesset
the day it was dissolved.
There are two Anglo candidates vying for
positions: Likud Anglos chairman Daniel Tauber for the Jerusalem spot, and Dr.
Emmanuel Navon for the immigrant spot.
Navon was born and raised in
Paris, but calls himself “Franglo,” as he is married to a New Yorker and lives
among American immigrants in Efrat.
The Judea and Samaria seat on the
list, at an unrealistic number 34, was the easiest to get into, with Likud
central committee member Yehuda Glick running unopposed.