The Likud will take a big step toward building its international relations next month when it joins the International Democrat Union, The Jerusalem Post was told exclusively on Tuesday.Less known than the Socialist International, which has included Labor and Meretz for many years, the IDU is an alliance of 71 center-right parties and moderate right-wing parties from 63 countries. The organization is headed by former New Zealand president John Key and headquartered in Oslo, Norway.The IDU includes the American Republican Party, British Conservative Party of Prime Minister Theresa May, German Christian Democrats of Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australian Liberal Party of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Canadian Conservative Party of former prime minister Stephen Harper. There are also parties from Lebanon and Morocco.“The Likud joining the IDU is a source of pride for us,” said the party’s deputy director-general for public and foreign relations, Eli Hazan. “The IDU is our natural home, because it allows us to continue the work of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of putting Israel on the map internationally and to be part of an umbrella organization that advances the ideology of free markets.”Under Hazan’s guidance, over the past two years the Likud has also joined the Conservatives International and the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe as a regional partner. He negotiated the Likud’s entrance to the IDU for a year and a half.The process of joining the IDU is set to be finalized February 19, when Hazan and Likud director- general Tzuri Sisso attend the IDU conference in Salamanca, Spain. There will then be a visit to Israel of representatives of IDU countries from around the world, in which they will see the country and learn more about the Likud.Hazan regularly hosts such visits of parliament members from foreign counties and represents the Likud abroad. For instance, last weekend, he spoke at a conference in the Czech Republic hosted by the opposition ODS party.Harper, who may come to Israel as part of the IDU delegation, was instrumental in helping the Likud gain membership. The Germans, British and Australians were also helpful, Hazan said.“Being a part of the IDU will help the Likud defend Israel to the world,” Hazan said.