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
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.
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
“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.”