(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MK Danny Danon, chairman of the Likud central committee, will run against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and MK Moshe Feiglin in the party’s leadership primary, he announced on Monday.
“The Likud chairman has not been following the Likud’s way for a long time and I am here to put the party back on track,” Danon said, a day after he and Netanyahu agreed to hold the primary on January 6. “Netanyahu is one of the State of Israel’s veteran prime ministers, but, unfortunately, he lost his way.”
Danon disclosed his plans after riding to Jerusalem’s neighborhood Pisgat Ze’ev on the light rail, which has been attacked by rock-throwers along it route in Arab neighborhoods and had vehicular terrorist attacks at two of its stations in recent weeks.
According to Danon, the Likud became a ruling party because it stood strong on socioeconomic and security issues, but Netanyahu had not done so, building fewer homes in settlements than left-wing governments, freeing terrorists with blood on their hands, stopping the IDF from destroying Hamas in the Gaza Strip and ignoring the rising cost of living.
Danon reiterated that the prime minister agreed to a cease-fire in Operation Protective Edge while knowing there were still terrorist tunnels from Gaza into Israel, a criticism that cost Danon his position as deputy defense minister during the operation.
“We Likudniks sent [Netanyahu] on the Likud path, but he disconnected.
I am here to say, we have to go back to that way,” he said. “I have been in the Likud since my youth, I am faithful to our path and I expect the leader of our party to be too, but he isn’t.
“The prime minister is saying rightwing things in recent days – he is faking. He is just looking for votes,” Danon said.
Danon ran for leader of the Likud in 2007, and got 3.7 percent of the vote. In the most recent primary, in January 2012, Netanyahu won with 76.79% of the vote. The other 23.21% went to Feiglin.
Meanwhile, Bayit Yehudi began preparations for its leadership primary, calling a vote by its central committee next Wednesday to determine who will be on the election committee.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, chairman of Bayit Yehudi, can appoint three members of the election committee and the other four must be voted in by the central committee.
Bennett hopes to hold the primary in late December or early January, but if the four elected committee members are hostile to him and unlikely to cooperate with such a request, he may not intervene in the scheduling decision at all, a source close to the Bayit Yehudi leader explained.
Meanwhile, the future of the Bayit Yehudi’s joint Knesset list with Tekuma, the party headed by Construction Minister Uri Ariel, remains in doubt.
Bayit Yehudi director-general Nir Orbach proposed a deal to merge the two parties, in which Ariel would be guaranteed the No. 2 spot, but the rest of the MKs would have to run in the Bayit Yehudi primary. In addition, Tekuma could appoint 120 out of the joint party’s 1,300 central committee members.
Ariel was not impressed by the offer, telling Army Radio: “We can pass the electoral threshold alone. We also have options to join forces with others.”
Last March, the legislature raised the electoral threshold required to enter the next Knesset from 2% to 3.25%