Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu votes in Likud central committee elections.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Likud central committee members voted Sunday on a proposal to give themselves the right to choose the entire Likud list for the next Knesset.
Some 3,700 members of the Likud central committee were eligible to vote at 10 polling stations across the country Sunday on a proposal to change how Israel’s ruling party elects its MKs.
The central committee members will decide whether to keep the current system by which Knesset candidates are chosen by the 100,000 Likud members, give themselves the exclusive power to pick the MKs, or adopt a compromise proposal backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which the members would select the party’s top candidates and the central committee would pick candidates further down the list in slots reserved for new candidates from regions.
When Netanyahu voted at the Convention Center in Jerusalem on Sunday, he called on Central Committee members to vote on the compromise which he supports. He said that it would guarantee that the Likud would "remain the ruling party for years to come."
But MK David Amsalem, who has been the main backer of giving central committee members the right to choose the entire list, told reporters as he voted Sunday that he was not against Netanyahu, but for the Likud.
However, earlier Sunday in a radio interview, he said Netanyahu was "not our Rebbe," and that dissent is permitted, except under Saddam Hussein and in Russia.
Polling stations will be open until 10 p.m. and results are expected on Monday. The ballots provide four options, with the fourth being none of the above three proposals.
To change the status quo, any of the four options would be required to receive 51 percent of the vote. Splitting the ballot in four makes achieving that much support difficult to get.
Likud Anglos leader Daniel Tauber and key activist Omri Akunis wrote a letter to central committee members on Saturday night warning them not to take the right to choose the list away from the Likud membership as a whole. The letter was signed by prominent Anglo activists in the party such as Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick.
“Canceling the right of Likud members to choose their representatives and to transfer this right to the central committee would be a great mistake,” the letter said.
“Such a change would lead to an immediate reduction in the number of Likud members, the cancellation of tens of thousands of existing memberships, and prevent potential members who care for the direction of the State of Israel and believe in the values of the Likud from joining the movement.
“In addition, the chances that these citizens will vote for the Likud in the general election, when they will not be members of the party and as they will have no real connection with the party, will be reduced significantly,” they wrote.