Netanyahu with likud background 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has decided to attend a controversial Likud convention meeting next month, despite his opposition to right-wing proposals that are expected to pass at the event, sources close to him said Wednesday.
Netanyahu has tried to prevent a convention in his party on diplomatic issues from being held for years. But the meeting will be held December 18 with an agenda that is being approved by a panel headed by hawkish Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon.
The proposals set to come to a vote at the convention include annexing Judea and Samaria, guaranteeing the right to Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount and preventing politicians who vote in the cabinet or Knesset against convention decisions from running again with the party.
Sources close to Netanyahu said he would not feel obligated to abide by every decision made by the convention. The sources said his legal advisers told him that for instance, he could bypass a decision to not merge with Yisrael Beytenu.
Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu told Likud ministers that if the bond with Yisrael Beytenu is broken, there would have to be a cabinet reshuffle and Likud ministers could lose their jobs. Modi’in Mayor Haim Bibas, a strong Netanyahu supporter, is pushing a proposal to facilitate the merger of the two parties.
“People think we have 31 seats but unless we have a merger, we will have only 20,” Bibas said.
“If the Likud wants to be a large party, we must be united.”
Bibas, who described himself as part of the “sane Likud,” cautioned Likud hawks not to go too far with their proposals that are aimed at tying Netanyahu’s hands on diplomatic issues.
“The prime minister needs to be enabled to lead so we won’t be a small niche party,” Bibas said.
“There are people who don’t realize that if they continue this way we’ll have nothing left. We have a prime minister who heads the party but must also run the country. If he doesn’t get the freedom to run things the way he needs, the party will become an obstacle.”
Among the proposals aimed directly at weakening Netanyahu include: one that requires a special majority to win a third straight term as party chairman and one by MK Moshe Feiglin that would prevent a party leader from deciding the date of a leadership primary.
Feiglin slammed Netanyahu’s handling of the Iranian nuclear issue, saying that Israel’s strategy of calling it an international problem was proven wrong this past week when the P5+1 caved into Iran’s demands in Geneva.
He said Netanyahu’s red line before Israeli military action should have been when Iran’s leaders first called for Israel’s destruction.
He said he was glad that the prime minister declared that the P5+1 agreement did not obligate Israel but Feiglin expressed frustration that Netanyahu was sending more emissaries to Washington instead of saying that Israel sees only itself as the solution to the problem.
“I warned for years that passing responsibility for the problem to the US would lead to a nuclear Iran,” Feiglin said. “We must admit that this strategy failed. Had we asked the Americans about whether to attack the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs, Saddam Hussein would have had the bomb and Assad would have been on the way.”