The Likud Central Committee approved the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu merger on Monday night in a landslide victory for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

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.”

The 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 applause.

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“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.

The prime 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 citizens.”

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 current list.

According to the party list obtained by The Jerusalem Post, there are 112 candidates for, according to recent polls, 22-27 expected Likud seats.

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.

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