Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s political future suffered a major blow Monday when the Tel Aviv District Court ruled that the Likud’s institutions can vote to take key powers away from him.
The Likud’s law committee had ruled that the power to convene the party’s central committee could be taken away from the party leader and given to the head of the central committee, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon.
When an internal Likud court overruled the law committee, Danon took Netanyahu to the external court.
Judge Dafna Avnieli ruled in Danon’s favor and forced Netanyahu’s lawyers, who work for the party, to pay Danon NIS 40,000 in legal bills. In her ruling, she criticized Netanyahu for trying to paralyze the party’s institutions.
The significance of the ruling is that Danon will be able to convene the central committee next month for votes on key issues Netanyahu opposes, including opposing territorial concessions and preventing a merger with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party.
“We proved the party is democratic,” Danon said after the ruling. “We will make sure the largest party in the Knesset remains loyal to its values.”
Netanyahu’s associates said he intended to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court and obtain a restraining order to prevent the committee from convening.
The Likud’s attorney, Avi Halevy, who represented Netanyahu in the lawsuit, said the judge recognized the party head’s role in determining the agenda of central committee meetings.
Halevy accused Danon of trying to take away powers from Netanyahu and give them to himself.
“The Likud will continue to function democratically, and its institutions will work to maintain the rights of its members,” Halevy said.