Likud supporters celebrate at party headquarters on Election Day.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The battle to stop the impact of the New Likudniks group in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party shifted to the US Monday, when Likud activists vowed to prevent politicians who support the group from receiving funding from US donors.
The party has embarked on a series of steps against the so-called New Likudniks, a group of centrists who want the party to become less extreme and return to values they say existed when Likud was led by then-prime minister Menachem Begin and are no longer prevalent in the party. Likud activists have asked the party’s courts to expel them from the party.
A Likud activist from Ashkelon named Moshe Sabach has embarked on an effort to persuade American donors to stop contributing to the primary campaigns of Likud ministers Tzachi Hanegbi and Gila Gamliel and MK Sharren Haskel, who attended an event hosted by the New Likudniks last week.
“The way for us to fight and keep our home party clean of extreme leftists is to use whatever leverage we have,” Sabach said. “All our ministers and MKs turn to Americans to help their primary campaigns. American donors might not know what is happening in the Likud. Stopping the New Likudniks is important for Israel’s security. We don’t want more Jews expelled and Jerusalem divided, so we explain the problem to our colleagues in the US.”
Sabach and a business partner from Colorado named Ray Millers said they sent a letter to members of American Friends of Likud telling them not to support Hanegbi, Gamliel and Haskel.
American Friends of Likud head Dr. Julio Messer said, “Nobody ever told me that such a letter was received. We would have ignored it anyway.” Other leaders in the organization said they also had not been given the letter.
“Democracy in Israel is facing a problem we would like to bring to your attention,” Sabach and Millers wrote in the letter. “There are ministers in the Likud trying to liberalize our values and create a New Likud party that will destroy the values we have upheld since 1977. The New Likud will destroy the Likud from inside the party and change the balance of power in Israel, leaning the country to the far Left.”
Sabach said he would contact all of the American donors of Hanegbi and Gamliel, who are all listed on the website of the State Comptroller’s Office. Gamliel has received contributions from Leon Falic, one of the owners of Duty Free Americas, Inc., the largest duty-free operator in the United States and one of the top contributors to Netanyahu.
Gamliel declined to respond to the effort against her. Sources close to Haskel blamed the effort on attempts by her rivals in the Likud to falsely paint her as a leftist.