Interior Committee chairman David Amsalem (Likud) visits Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)
The campaigns of Likud central committee chairmanship candidates Tzachi Hanegbi and David Amsalem received boosts on Monday when they received endorsements from key figures in the party for the December 29 race.
Other contenders for the position are Welfare Minister Haim Katz and Deputy Interior Minister Yaron Mazuz.
Amsalem was endorsed for the powerful post by Modi’in mayor Haim Bibas, who is the chairman of the Association of Local Authorities in Israel and a close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bibas said he would draft more Likud mayors to help Amsalem.
Hanegbi received an endorsement from central committee member Doron Atias, who formally dropped out of the race Monday to back him. At a press conference in the Knesset, Atias called upon Amsalem and Mazuz to quit the race in order to help Hanegbi defeat Katz.
“His endorsement made me happy because it gives momentum to my candidacy,” Hanegbi said.
Hanegbi, unlike Katz and Amsalem, has not received any endorsement from ministers or MKs. He said he did not seek such endorsements, because ministers and MKs should not be involved in the race. He said no MKs backed him when he won the chairmanship of the central committee in 1998 and 2003.
Asked if Netanyahu backed him, he said he did not coordinate his candidacy with the prime minister but he has made clear that he believes the chairman of the committee should work together with the head of the party and not against him. He vowed that the central committee would become much more active under his leadership.
“Unfortunately, the central committee has been paralyzed,” Hanegbi said. “Central committee members are not marionettes. I think my chances of winning are good. I’ve never lost a race in Likud.”