Netanyahu speaks at Likud faction meeting.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Fear of moderate and centrist members who have joined Likud could cause anyone who has joined the party recently to not be able to choose the party’s next Knesset list, Likud officials said Sunday.
The party has embarked on a series of steps against the so-called New Likudniks, a group of centrists who want the party to become more moderate and return to values they say existed when Likud was led by then-prime minister Menachem Begin and are no longer prevalent in the party.
Last week, party officials talked about expelling the heads of the New Likudniks on grounds that they violated the party’s constitution by criticizing the Likud in the press. Likud officials also temporarily shut down Internet registration to the party and said that from now on, new members will have to face an acceptance committee.
But on Sunday party officials revealed a new step – extending the minimum membership time needed to vote in primaries for MKs from 16 months to as much as three years. Such a step would not only block the New Likudniks, but thousands of other people who have joined the party, no matter what their views are.
The changes are expected to be voted on next month at a meeting of the party’s constitution committee and stand a good chance of passing.
MKs and ministers have recently received letters from top party activists warning them that if they go to events of the New Likudniks or cooperate with them in any way, they will be voted out of the next Knesset.
“The New Likudniks are a fifth column who realized that they are not having any impact with demonstrations and the real way to have influence is by joining Likud and voting for leftists,” Likud activist Natan Engelsman said. “We don’t want people who don’t share our values.”
The Likud’s internal comptroller, Shai Galili, wrote Likud director-general Tzuri Sisso Sunday that closing down Internet registration to the party was illegal. He is expected to take steps against other changes as well.