All 40 top Likud candidates pledge loyalty to Netanyahu

"Without regard to the results of the election, Netanyahu is the Likud's only candidate for prime minister, and there will be no other candidate.

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August 4, 2019 23:50
2 minute read.
Likud Knesset members celebrate with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife after the elections.

Likud Knesset members celebrate with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife after the elections.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

All 40 of the Likud’s top Knesset candidates signed a petition on Sunday reiterating that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and only Netanyahu, is the party’s candidate to form the next government.

The petition came after Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman said on Channel 12’s Meet the Press program Saturday evening that he would like to see a prime minister from Likud who is not Netanyahu, suggesting Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein instead.

“We, the undersigned candidates on the Likud list for the 22nd Knesset, underscore that we will not receive any dictation from any other party,” the petition says. “Without regard to the results of the election, Netanyahu is the Likud’s only candidate for prime minister, and there will be no other candidate.”

The petition drive was initiated by MK David Bitan and immediately endorsed by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, among other Netanyahu loyalists. Even MKs Gideon Sa’ar and Michal Shir, who are considered less automatic to back Netanyahu than other MKs, signed the petition.

Netanyahu wrote on Twitter on Sunday afternoon, “Thanks to the Likud members for their unequivocal support. We are always united!”

The Democratic Union’s number two candidate, former MK Stav Shaffir, wrote on Twitter that the petition showed that the Likud is “committing suicide.” Former prime minister Ehud Barak, also from the Democratic Union, tweeted that “[Likud’s ideological mentor Ze’ev] Jabotinsky is turning over in his grave.”

The official response of Blue and White was that “the Likud is preparing for the post-Netanyahu era” and that “no document can stop the contacts and talks between figures in Blue and White and Likud.”

Blue and White candidate Moshe Ya’alon compared the Likud petition to the regime in North Korea, where people “take a deep bow, even to statues” of their leader. Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid tweeted an endorsement of Liberman’s comments on Sunday.

“Bibi is right,” Lapid wrote. “Behind his back, everyone in Likud is already searching for his successor and talking about nothing but that. Right now they are whispering, but not for much longer.”

Netanyahu’s spokesman, Yonatan Urich, mocked Lapid’s reaction to the petition by saying that Blue and White is considering stopping its four leaders from attacking each other for a day.

“Gantz and Lapid, who head a dictatorial party and have elected themselves and their members, are the last who should be preaching morality to Likud – the largest and most powerful democratic party in Israel,” the Likud said in a statement.

“Lapid and Gantz, who are constantly working against each other, and Labor, which changes chairmen every two weeks, can only envy Likud members who stand behind the party chairman. Their frustration is understandable: the plot to replace Netanyahu after the election finally collapsed today.”

This petition was first revealed by the Ynet website.

Hagay Hacohen contributed to this report.


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