Netanyahu votes in Likud primary 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Likud activist Moshe Feiglin slugged it
out in Tuesday’s Likud leadership race, but meanwhile, at the party’s largest
branch in Jerusalem, supporters of both men actually got along.
Due to a
political deal reached between backers of Netanyahu and Feiglin, the large tents
erected by their supporters outside the voting booths at the Jerusalem
International Convention Center distributed identical lists of recommended
candidates for the Likud central committee.
Like in 50 other branches
around the country where such deals were made, in Jerusalem it was already just
as clear who would be elected to the central committee, as it was presumed
Netanyahu would defeat Feiglin. The lists distributed were not mere scraps of
paper, but actual ballots with dozens of candidates names filled in, ready for
the ballot box.
“The agreement was a good idea, because it ended tension
in the Likud branch in Jerusalem,” Elisha Peleg, the lone city councilman
representing the Likud in the capital, said in an interview in the pro-Netanyahu
tent. “But I know that the agreement decreased the motivation a lot of people
had to vote because both races were already decided.”
Peleg has been a
Likud member for 37 years and was the party’s spokesman when it took power for
the first time in 1977. He accompanied Netanyahu and his wife Sara when they
came to vote at 10 a.m., when the polls opened.
The Likud jingle blared
as Netanyahu arrived at the convention center.
He used the photo
opportunity, as he did all day, to plead with people to vote and avoid questions
from reporters about the scandal surrounding his Chief of Staff Natan
When Feiglin arrived, he also had to deal with a pesky adversary.
One of his former top supporters in Jerusalem, Fred Moncharsh, greeted him with
signs calling him a “false prophet” and followed him around whenever cameras
were present. Moncharsh later switched to a sign with an embarrassing quote from
Feiglin from 2009 urging people to vote for Kadima leader Tzipi Livni rather
“I honestly think that Moshe Feiglin is a hypocrite,
because even though he was a Likud leadership candidate, he preferred someone
from a rival party for prime minister,” Moncharsh said. “He is not a real
Likudnik, and I think it’s important that the prime minister be given a mandate
in this election.”
Moncharsh ran for the Likud’s Knesset lot reserved for
a Jerusalemite in 2008.
Instead of backing Moncharsh, Feiglin backed Keti
Shitrit of Beit Shemesh, who Moncharsh said opposed the ideals of Feiglin’s
Manhigut Yehudit organization.
“He didn’t screw me,” Moncharsh said. “He
supported someone without the Likud ideology, who backed the disengagement from
the Gaza Strip.”
Feiglin’s top activist in Jerusalem, Nitza Kahane, said
Moncharsh was not causing too much trouble.
“Fred doesn’t bother us,” she
said. “He just has an American mentality that everything has to be super clean,
and that doesn’t work here.”
The oddest sight at the convention center
was Feiglin holding a piggy bank bearing the likeness of none other than US
President Barack Obama. The piggy bank was given to Feiglin by Jerusalem
activist and entrepreneur Aaron Bashani.
“I am selling the Obama banks to
increase awareness of the Iranian threat,” Bashani said. “I gave one to Feiglin
because he is a candidate for prime minister, and I came too late to give one to