Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a special cabinet meeting at the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council August 31, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu succeeded in persuading nearly the entire Likud faction to boycott Monday’s Likud diplomatic convention in Ashkelon, which was organized by his party nemesis, MK Danny Danon.
Netanyahu’s associates asked ministers and MKs in the faction not to attend the convention, where he was repeatedly criticized. The prime minister organized his own event at the same time in Petah Tikva, a pre-Rosh Hashana toast.
Danon, who was fired by Netanyahu during Operation Protective Edge, said he is not competing with the prime minister.
“When Netanyahu came to the last Likud convention, there were barely any MKs,” Danon said after the meeting. “I didn’t try to persuade MKs to come here like [Netanyahu] did [with his event].”
Between 300 and 400 people attended each event, but the prime minister’s toast also attracted seven MKs, including five minsters and MK Moshe Feiglin, who attended both events and was the only legislator other than Danon at the convention.
Netanyahu issued veiled criticism of Danon in his speech at the toast, saying that “leading the country requires responsibility and unity among us.”
Danon told the crowd at the convention that “a strong country with a strong army should not have needed 50 days of war.” He said there was no reason for Netanyahu to wait or hesitate before vanquishing Hamas.
Feiglin said the Likud’s diplomatic platform calls for maintaining sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel, and the party’s representatives in the Knesset should abide by it.
“There is no better place than Ashkelon to say that there is no more room here in this land for two states for two peoples,” Feiglin said. “There will be one state for one people with one God.”
When a Likud activist named Shimon Boker praised Netanyahu, he was booed by the crowd. Ashkelon activist Eli Cornfeld was applauded for slamming the prime minister.
“There are those presenting the war as an achievement, but there is no feeling of victory in Ashkelon,” Cornfeld said. “The people who led us in the war are to blame. Bibi [Netanyahu] not only failed; he was chosen on a ticket of security and he failed his first test.”
At the end of the convention, the central committee passed a resolution calling for toppling Hamas.
The resolution is not binding.