Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Jerusalem event marking 25 years to the beginning of the massive wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a Likud central committee meeting of only 10 members in a Tel Aviv Fairgrounds auditorium that cost the party NIS 400,000, Likud officials revealed Monday.
Unlike normal meetings of the central committee, Monday’s event was closed to the press and started at 3 p.m. when most committee members are at work, instead of the usual 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.
“It was the funniest, most delusional meeting we have ever had,” said Haifa Likud activist Aviad Visoli. “Bibi [Netanyahu] spoke before 200 empty chairs.”
The emergency meeting was called Sunday night after an internal Likud court ruled that Tuesday’s central committee vote on advancing the Likud leadership race cannot take place without a debate being held first. So Netanyahu spoke in favor of advancing the primary, Visoli spoke against, and the meeting ended after 20 minutes.
“I request that we complete our internal processes in the Likud as quickly as possible, because it will help the party,” Netanyahu told the small crowd. “We saw not too long ago that when we unite, we win. I want to unite the party so we will continue to win and continue to lead the country according to our path, the path of Likud.”
Visoli countered by complaining that a real debate was not held. He said that if Netanyahu succeeds in advancing the primary to February 23 in Tuesday’s vote, another election should be held ahead of the next general election to decide the party’s candidate for prime minister.
No one is expected to challenge Netanyahu for the Likud leadership. But MK Avi Dichter reportedly said in closed conversations that he is considering running.
Some 3700 Likud central committee members will be eligible to vote Tuesday in five polling stations in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba, and Tiberias from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Besides the vote on advancing the Likud leadership race, there will also be voting for the chairman of the Likud central committee, replacing current ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon.
The candidates for the post are Social Welfare Minister Haim Katz, and MKs Tzachi Hanegbi, David Amsalem, and Yaron Mazuz. Central committee member David Attias spoke at Monday’s meeting in order to urge members to vote for Hanegbi.
Amsalem, who will vote in Jerusalem on Tuesday morning, said at a rally Sunday night that he was running because he loves the party he grew up in. Katz said Monday that if he wins, the central committee will be stronger and more active.
“The Likud needs stability, along with some crucial changes in the party constitution,” Katz said. “The central committee is the party’s heart and its members are what brings the Likud success.”