Yair Netanyahu .
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Some 4,000 Likud activists at this weekend’s Likudiada will hold a mock election for the next Likud faction that will include the party’s current MKs, other candidates expected to run, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair.
Likudiada organizers Moshe Passal and Moshiko Ben-Zaken said they decided to include the younger Netanyahu, because he is a figure who is well-known by party activists. They said their decision came well before tapes surfaced of him disparaging women on a drunken jaunt to a strip club.
“We don’t intend to remove him from the mock election,” Passal said. “This is a private event, so no one could pressure us. We decided on our own. The mock election is a good way of measuring what Likud members think about their public servants and new people.”
Yair Netanyahu has publicly said that he did not intend to follow his father into politics, though he is considered to be an influential informal adviser to the prime minister.
The mock election is run using the same procedures as normal Likud primaries. Yair Netanyahu, 26, was put in the category of young candidates, a slot occupied on the current Likud list by MK Oren Hazan. In the Likud Whatsapp groups, party activists have urged attendees to not vote for Yair because it could harm the party’s reputation.
A vote is also set to take place at the event for the successor to Netanyahu. Former interior minister Gideon Sa’ar, who is considered a potential successor, will not be attending the event.
While the Likudiada will be taking place, an internal court will convene at the Likud’s Tel Aviv headquarters to hear a petition by Likud activist Natan Engelsman asking for new elections for head of the World Likud. In his petition, Engelsman wrote that when World Likud chairman Danny Danon left the post to be Israel’s ambassador to the UN in 2015, an election should have been held, but instead the chairmanship was given to Danon’s deputy, Yaakov Hagoel.
Danon and Hagoel have been accused by a Channel 2 report of improprieties in their administration of the World Likud. Both men have vigorously denied the reports and welcomed a police check of the report’s accuracy.
“Hagoel used the title of ‘World Likud chairman,’ but he was chosen without proper procedure,” Engelsman said. “I decided not to give it a hand anymore. World Likud is not a private business of anyone.”
Hagoel, who is the vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization, declined to respond to the petition.