While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was awaiting the arrival of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his Jerusalem residence Monday evening, his mind was undoubtedly on the case being heard across town at the Supreme Court.
In his meeting with Merkel, Netanyahu sought to determine how much support he would receive from Germany in his efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran and maintain as much as possible of the Land of Israel in an agreement with the Palestinians. But both of those issues could end up being decided by a new prime minister if he loses the support of his party.
Channel 2 mocked the expense Netanyahu paid for multiple high-profile lawyers who represented him in court, but it was not surprising that the prime minister spared no expense when his political career was on the line.
Judges Elyakim Rubinstein, Yoram Danzinger and Yitzhak Amit were asked to determine procedural issues in Likud that normally would not interest anyone but the most rabid Likud activists. The issues included who can call for a meeting of the Likud central committee and who can determine such a meeting’s agenda.
The Court ruled that Netanyahu can determine the agenda for the next Likud convention, which is expected to take place on March 23 in Tel Aviv. But the judges added that Danon can present an alternative proposal for the agenda at the convention.
If Danon succeeds in passing an alternative agenda at the convention, he can pass proposals opposing territorial concessions and preventing a merger with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party. Such decisions would make Netanyahu feel unwanted in his party.
Liberman told reporters in the Knesset cafeteria Monday that he believes his party will run alone in the next general election. But he left open the possibility that internal decisions inside Likud could change his mind.
Immediately after Rubinstein read the ruling, both Netanyahu and Danon claimed victory. The truth is that Netanyahu won the battle in court Monday, but Danon could win the more important fight at the convention.
If Danon wins, the rightwing hawks in Likud could push Netanyahu out and take over the party. But Netanyahu has proven before that he always can find a legal loophole to prevent his party from being able to make the decisions that he wants avoided.
“Netanyahu won tonight, and he will win in the convention, too,” his lawyer Jacob Weinroth said. “The prime minister will be satisfied.”