Representatives of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu succeeded Wednesday in
delaying a Likud vote that could end the party’s partnership with Yisrael
At Wednesday night’s Likud convention, Netanyahu’s
representatives persuaded an internal Likud court to prevent the party’s central
committee from voting on the matter – a political victory for the prime
minister, as without Yisrael Beytenu, his faction would have only 20 seats, just
one more than Yesh Atid.
Netanyahu similarly persuaded Yisrael Beytenu
last month to delay a decision on whether to end the alliance.
Defense Minister Danny Danon, who chairs the central committee, vowed to bring
the proposal to a vote in the next Likud convention, which could take place as
early as February.
The crowd, which overwhelmingly opposed the merger,
booed and expressed outrage over the decision.
“We are a democratic party
and majority rule will decide our fate,” Danon told the central committee at the
Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
Danon had worked out a compromise whereby the
convention would vote to oppose a future merger but the current partnership in
the Knesset would be maintained. But the compromise did not prevent Netanyahu
from sending representatives to the internal court to prevent the
Netanyahu came to the convention and was received warmly by the
sparse crowd of some 300 of the 3,600 central committee members. He delivered an
uncontroversial speech in which he praised the IDF and criticized international
pressure on Israel.
The central committee will vote by secret ballot at
the Fairgrounds Thursday on 18 proposed changes to the Likud
The proposals include lowering membership age to 17 and
recognizing the gay forum in the party.
A dozen activists spoke at
Wednesday’s event and criticized the party’s leadership. Activist Ronnie Stern
proposed separation from Yisrael Beytenu’s party and faction.
“We are a
strong enough party without them,” Stern said.
“We don’t need an
albatross on our back.”
Kfar Saba Likud activist Shlomo Madmon said the
party was currently floundering but could win 40 seats in the next election if
it invested in its branches and its activists.
“We need to focus on
reawakening our branches and returning the fire to the eyes of the party,”
Haifa Likud central committee member Aviad Visoli proposed
forbidding Likud ministers from voting for additional Palestinian prisoner
releases until US president Barack Obama commutes the life sentence of Israeli
agent Jonathan Pollard.
“Jonathan Pollard didn’t kill anyone,” Visoli
said. “He should be freed.”