PM unlikely to run for Likud convention head

The prime minister will leave race and endorse Danny Danon, after TA District Court ruled convention must be held by June 30.

June 2, 2013 23:05
2 minute read.
Netanyhau arrives for weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusaelm, May 26, 2013

Netanyahu walking 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Menahem Kahana/Pool)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to drop his candidacy for the presidency of the Likud central committee convention that the Tel Aviv District Court ruled Sunday must be held by the end of the month, party sources said.

In the previous Likud convention, which took place in May 2012, Netanyahu was booed by party activists. Since then, Netanyahu has tried to delay the convention, despite numerous appeals by party activists to external courts and internal party institutions.

The four announced candidates for the position of president were Netanyahu, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, former minister Michael Eitan, and Gidon Ariel, a Ma’aleh Adumimbranch Likud central committee member. Netanyahu’s associates said he would leave the race and endorse Danon in return for Danon advancing the prime minister’s interests in the party, such as electing a retired judge to head the party’s internal court rather than a hawkish party activist.

Eitan, who is now part of a political think tank, said he was leaning against running, but intended to meet with his loyalists in the party before making a final decision. Ariel is leaning toward running, especially if there is only one other candidate.

It was Ariel, along with fellow central committee member Aviad Natovich, who successfully petitioned the court to force Netanyahu to hold the convention. Judge Hagai Brenner ruled that the convention must be held by June 30 and that no new candidates can join the race for convention president. Brenner rejected an attempt by the Likud to used the October 22 municipal election as an excuse to not hold the convention.

Likud officials declined to comment on the judge’s verdict and said they did not know when the prime minister would choose to hold the convention.

Ariel accused Netanyahu and the party of dragging their feet.

“Unfortunately, there has been a clear disintegration of trust between the Likud system, election committee and the offices and the general membership, specifically the central committee convention, which is waiting to be convened,” Ariel said.

“Most politicians would prefer to be able to pursue their ideas and policies without internal or external opposition, but democracy doesn’t work that way. I recognize the Likud [leadership] prefers to work without members keeping them from doing what they prefer, but I feel its my right and my responsibility to stand strong and ensure that the party will remain a democratic, living, thriving organism.”

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