YOAV GALLANT: The Iranians are the most significant and dangerous threat to Israel and the entire Western world. .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The candidates with the most extensive defense experience – IDF Lt.-Gen. (res.) Yoav Gallant and former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Avi Dichter – are the most popular as the Likud heads towards its primaries on February 5.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Gallant made a joint statement to the press Wednesday to announce the latter joined the Likud. Gallant, who was a minister in Kulanu until recently, signed his membership papers in front of the media. While Gallant did not say he was running in the Likud primary, he has long been expected to do so.
In his remarks, Netanyahu touted Gallant’s defense credentials, saying he has been deeply involved in government decisions in the Security Cabinet, including playing an instrumental role in Israel’s strategy towards Iranian forces in Syria. Gallant paid tribute to Netanyahu’s leadership, which he called “impressive and decisive.”
“The source from which I get my strength is my full belief in the State of Israel and the IDF for the continuation of the Jewish People in Zion and the Diaspora,” Gallant said.
Gallant was supported by 65.69% of voters and Dichter by 65.04% in a poll conducted by a potential Likud primary candidate.
They’re followed by former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat (59.28%) and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (58.2%), who came in first place in the 2015 primaries, and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (55.7%).
The most popular woman in the Likud is Culture Minister Miri Regev, in 6th place with 53.42%. She’s followed by former minister Gideon Sa’ar (52.12%), and the most popular freshman MK, Amir Ohana (45.93%).
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein dropped from second place to 23rd with 28.99% support.
The poll was sent to a random sampling of 19,145 out of the Likud’s over-120,000 members, and the results are taken from 921 people who gave complete answers, meaning 12 candidates as is required in the actual primaries. Since the sample is random, it may not be representative.
In addition, powerful MKs and interest groups in the party tend to make deals and distribute lists to their supporters suggesting for whom to vote, which influence the outcome. For example, taking into consideration the expected spots on the list for districts, under-35 and new women candidates, Welfare Minister Haim Katz is bumped into 40th place. However, Katz is known to be a major deal-maker, and as the former union leader of Israel Aerospace Industries, leads a large bloc of IAI workers in the Likud, and he is more likely to end up in a spot that would more realistically get him into the next Knesset.
The Likud has been polling at around 30 seats in recent weeks, and many incumbent MKs appear unlikely to get a realistic spot on the list.
Scandal-plagued MK Oren Hazan only comes in the 37rd spot, after several spots reserved for various groups. Other incumbents coming in below 30th are Yehudah Glick, Anat Berko, Nurit Koren, Miki Zohar, Nava Boker and Yaron Mazuz.
Despite his reported concern over the non-Jewish spot on the Likud list being reserved for a new candidate, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara came in the realistic 24th spot with 28.77% support.
The special spots on the Likud list for districts, young candidates, new women and a non-Jewish candidate were approved by the party’s Constitution Committee on Tuesday, pending a central committee vote on Sunday.
At least one primary candidate may be dropping out: Gilad Sharon, son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon. The younger Sharon has not been a member of the Likud long enough to run, and Netanyahu refused to waive the waiting period as he did for Gallant, Hadashot News reported. Sharon plans to petition the Likud’s internal court against the rejection.
Over the weekend, Likud candidates will have another chance to see how they rank at the “Leumiada,” an annual event for Likud members at a resort in Eilat. While the weekend retreat is not an official Likud party event, many MKs take the opportunity to mingle with party members, speak on panels, and participate in a mock party primary.
The retreat was formerly known as the “Likudiada,” but the State Comptroller forbade the organizers for using the name, saying it is illegal election campaigning.
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