(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MK David Amsalem, an underdog candidate for the chairmanship of the Likud central committee, came out swinging against the front-runner, Welfare Minister Haim Katz, at a Likud event in Ma’aleh Adumim on Sunday evening.
The event was organized by the Likud’s Young Guard ahead of the December 29 election to replace ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon as head of the powerful committee.
Besides Amsalem and Katz, MKs Tzachi Hanegbi and Yaron Mazuz are seeking the post.
Amsalem refused to shake Katz’s hand ahead of the event. Then in his speech, Amsalem mocked Katz for his start in the Knesset on the worker’s list Am Ehad that was headed by current Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz, and Hanegbi for being part of Kadima.
“I didn’t come to the Likud,” Amsalem said. “I was born in the Likud. I have been a central committee member for 30 years. I don’t have to be in the next Knesset. I am not here for a job. I don’t want a cabinet post. I care about serving the Likud.”
Amsalem, who lives in Ma’aleh Adumim, was greeted with chants of “Hoo-ha, who is coming? The next chairman of the central committee,” which rhymes in Hebrew. There were also chants of “Hydeh-Dudi,” which means forward David, using Amsalem’s nickname, Dudi.
Katz vowed not to attack any of his opponents in the race or to question the results if he loses. He said that unlike Amsalem, he would not cause problems for prime minister and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who has not endorsed any candidate in the race.
Katz defended his rightwing credentials as a member of the so-called Likud rebels group, who protested against then-party chairman and prime minister Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. He boasted passing 180 laws in the Knesset.
“My abilities are known,” he told the crowd. “I have succeeded in every post I’ve ever held, without fighting anyone. You decide if I am worthy or not.”