MK David Amsalem.
(photo credit: KNESSET)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's number two in Likud, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, surprisingly endorsed MK David Amsalem Tuesday in the December 29 election for chairman of the Likud's central committee.
"I have known Doody for 20 years and he has always done whatever he can to advance the party," Erdan said, using Amsalem's nickname. "Doody is a people person, and I am sure his election would help reconnect the party's leadership to its activists in the field."
Amsalem has been a fierce critic of Netanyahu since his election to the Knesset in March. He has caused Netanyahu headaches inside the party and would likely continue to do so if elected to head the influential Likud body.
He has proposed an amendment to the Likud constitution that would make it harder for Netanyahu to seek another term as Likud leader. He also would likely take steps to prevent the entrance to Likud of his longtime nemesis, Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat.
Amsalem will face off in the election against coalition chairman Tzachi Hanegbi and Deputy Interior Minister Yaron Mazuz. Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev decided not to run.
Netanyahu has not made an endorsement in the race to succeed former Likud central committee chairman and science, technology, and space minister Danny Danon, who has become ambassador to the United Nations.