Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Likud faction meeting, December 3, 2014.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Likud ministers mostly left Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fend for himself this week in convincing central committee members not to cancel the party’s open primaries.
The vote on whether to give the central committee the authority to elect the Likud’s list for future elections or to keep the vote open to all party members, initiated by Knesset Interior Committee chairman Dudi Amsalem and central committee members, will take place next Thursday.
In a meeting with central committee members on Thursday in Ramat Gan, the third this week, just Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Science and Technology Minister Danny Danon joined Netanyahu’s efforts. Immigration and Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin participated in a meeting with a smaller forum of Likud chapter chairmen.
Non-minister MKs were more openly supportive of the prime minister.
A source at Thursday evening’s meeting, which was closed to press, said MKs Yoav Kisch, Nurit Koren, David Bitan and Miki Zohar, as well as Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara, attended.
One Likud minister told The Jerusalem Post he and his colleagues were mostly absent from the meetings even though many of them oppose canceling the primary system because they were dissatisfied with the portfolios they received.
“If he doesn’t help me – and I didn’t ask for much – why should I help him?” the minister said.
When he heard Erdan was speaking to central committee members, the minister remarked: “Well, he got everything he wanted.”
The minister predicted that Netanyahu would not win the vote because central committee members would want to give themselves more power.
According to a source at Thursday night’s event, Netanyahu said: “We won [the election] because we were united.
My goal is to bring in at least 40 seats [in the next election].
If we take the vote away, people will leave – especially young people.”
The prime minister said the more people who vote in a primary, the better the choice of candidates will be.
“This vote will be a fateful one for our movement. The current system has proven itself and brought people to the Likud,” Erdan said.
Netanyahu also said he would consider a compromise solution, to which he was not open earlier in the week, but he asked central committee members to be united in supporting his choice whatever it may be.
One of the compromises proposed is to have the vote for the general slots on the list open to all party members and for central committee members to vote for the regional slots.
Danon expressed support for the compromise and said he thinks it will be the likely result of next week’s vote.
At the same time as Netanyahu’s event, Amsalem held an opposing one in Modi’in for central committee members who support putting voting power back into their own hands.
“The time has come for the party’s leaders to come to its chapters and not just TV studios,” Amsalem stated. “Central committee members are our barometers and they know the public, which has given [the Likud] the privilege of leading the country for four decades.”
Amsalem said people try to delegitimize the central committee, but they are “the most amazing people in Israel” and “no one bothers to talk about how much of their own energy and resources and time and effort these people invest in their communities.”
The MK added that this is not a campaign against Netanyahu and that the central committee appreciates his great contributions to the party, but that they think the system is wrong.
“This is the time... to revive the Likud and bring Likud back to the Likudniks,” Amsalem declared.