Zeev Elkin 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided against firing coalition chairman
Ze’ev Elkin, despite his support for the controversial “outpost bill” that was
defeated in the Knesset, sources in the Likud said Thursday.
felt undermined by Elkin’s efforts to pass the bill that would have
retroactively legalized unauthorized West Bank Jewish construction.
associates accused Elkin of serving as a fifth column for the settlers and for
far-right Likud activist Moshe Feiglin.
But Netanyahu decided he would
need Elkin’s support on key issues the coalition will face soon, including
finding an alternative to the “Tal Bill” that would equalize IDF service and
changing the electoral system. Also, efforts to find a replacement for Elkin in
the Likud faction came up empty.
Netanyahu’s former spokesman, MK Ophir
Akunis, voted for the outpost bill and did not express interest in the post. MK
Carmel Shama-Hacohen, who voted against the bill, also turned down the
It was also unclear whether Shama-Hacohen, who has enemies in the
Likud, could have defeated Elkin in a secret-ballot vote, which is required to
elect a new chairman of the Likud faction and the coalition.
chairman of the coalition is doing a terrific job, and I don’t intend to run
against him,” Shama-Hacohen said.
Elkin said he was proud of his vote for
the bill. He said he would have welcomed competition for his job and would have
honored the results of the vote if he was unseated.
Feiglin released a
statement saying that the many Likud MKs who voted for the bill despite the
prime minister’s opposition proved that the thousands of rightists who became
Likud members had already made a significant impact on the party.
Mattot Arim organization, which monitors right-wing MKs’ loyalty to the Land of
Israel, expressed support for the prime minister’s decision to keep Elkin in his
“We think Elkin should remain coalition head,” Mattot Arim
spokeswoman Susie Dym said. “It is one thing for the political system to chicken
out of doing what needs to be done for the Land of Israel. It’s another thing
entirely for someone to cut the heads off of the very legislators who are doing
what needs to be done. Elkin is a serious legislator who has been effective on
behalf of half a million Israelis living in strategic land located beyond the
1967 Auschwitz borders, so why fire him?”