(photo credit: KNESSET)
MK Orly Levy-Abecassis will be in second place on the Yisrael Beytenu list, replacing Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, who announced he was leaving the party Saturday.
Shamir, son of former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, is currently in the party’s second spot, but he is leaving because of “changes in Yisrael Beytenu’s diplomatic platform with which I have trouble identifying,” apparently a reference to a greater emphasis on areas in Israel heavily populated with Arabs being part of an eventual Palestinian state.
Shamir was one of several MKs Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman did not encourage to run for the party’s list again who took the hint, including Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee chairman David Rotem.
Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirschenbaum also announced she is taking a break from politics because of the ongoing corruption investigation against her.
Yisrael Beytenu confirmed Levy-Abecassis will be in second place on the list.
Because of her high placement on the list, right after Liberman, Levy-Abecassis is likely to receive a ministerial portfolio if the party is in the next coalition.
Levy-Abecassis is one of Yisrael Beytenu’s most acclaimed parliamentarians, who won the Israel Democracy Institute’s Outstanding Parliamentarian Award in 2013. She’s best known for her involvement in social issues, especially in favor of public housing, and as chairwoman of the Knesset Child’s Rights Committee.
A resident of Kibbutz Mesilot, Levy-Abecassis is the daughter of former foreign minister David Levy, is a former model and television host and has a law degree. Her brother, former Bet She’an mayor Jackie Levy, is in the realistic 18th spot on the Likud list.
Levy-Abecassis received an offer from Likud to leave Yisrael Beytenu in exchange for a reserved spot on the former party’s list, but declined.
On Monday, Yisrael Beytenu’s central committee will vote on whether or not to approve the party’s list, as chosen by its selection committee. After the central committee’s authorization, it will be presented to the public.
MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) is expected to announce on Sunday that he is joining Yesh Atid in a joint press conference with party leader Yair Lapid.
Stern, who focused on issues of religion and state in the last Knesset, is expected to get a realistic spot in the party’s top 10.
Stern broke off from MK Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua last month, after she and Labor leader Isaac Herzog agreed to run as a joint list with a rotation as prime minister.
In a letter to Livni, Stern wrote that Livni’s recent behavior and public statements show him that his place is no longer in Hatnua.
“In our meeting on Thursday, I made clear my hesitations about the connection with Labor, both the way and the conditions under which the decision was made. There was too heavy a price just for you to get a rotation,” he wrote, implying that she acted out of concern for herself and not her party as a whole.