Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during an appearance at a Likud faction meeting.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from Africa to a series of political disputes inside his Likud party, which could pose challenges in the weeks ahead.
Netanyahu was attacked by Likud ministers Ze’ev Elkin and Israel Katz for not building enough in Jerusalem, at a meeting of the party’s ideological bureau on Thursday.
Elkin, who chairs the bureau, convened it after not being given a portfolio following his relinquishing of the Immigration and Absorption Ministry when Yisrael Beytenu joined the coalition.
Neither Elkin nor Netanyahu’s associates would confirm or deny a report in the Makor Rishon newspaper that Netanyahu threatened to fire Elkin for his rebellious behavior.
At the meeting, Likud activist Shevah Stern of Shilo proposed that the party recommit to a proposal Netanyahu passed in 2002 opposing a Palestinian state. Stern agreed to postpone the vote on his proposal by a month at the request of a Netanyahu adviser.
Katz, who is upset at Netanyahu for not giving him the formal title of acting prime minister while he was in Africa, announced that the Likud’s governing secretariat, which he chairs, will meet on Thursday to discuss how Netanyahu ran the party’s finances in last year’s general election.
Next Sunday, the Likud’s law committee, which is chaired by Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz, will convene to consider amendments that would limit the powers of the party leader. For instance, the proposal would take away the party chairman’s veto power over when the Likud Central Committee meets and the agenda of its meetings.
The meeting was originally set for Sunday night, but Katz agreed to postpone it because Netanyahu told him he wanted to address the committee and could not on Sunday, due to the official ceremony marking the hostage-freeing operation in Entebbe.
Katz has said that if he is permitted to select the agenda of meetings of the Likud Central Committee, which he chairs, he would initiate a vote on annexing Ma’aleh Adumim.
Meanwhile, Channel 2 reported that former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, who Netanyahu replaced with Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman, has already begun forming a new party that will be similar to the Likud. The report said Ya’alon had met with prospective candidates, such as former minister Avi Gabai, MK Orly Levi-Abekasis, and journalist Yoaz Hendel.
Former president Shimon Peres told Yediot Aharonot over the weekend that he felt bad about the way Ya’alon lost his job, and called him to praise him.
Peres said Ya’alon possessed “a good combination of heroism and modesty.”
Peres said he wanted to see another former IDF chief, Gabi Ashkenazi, in the country’s leadership.
“It is no secret that I value his abilities and that I see him as fitting,” Peres said.