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(photo credit: Knesset Web site)
The next race for the Knesset does not appear to be in sight, but Likud MKs are already busy defending their turf against several well-known public figures who are said to be interested in running for the Knesset with the party.
Former IDF chief of General Staff Moshe Ya'alon, former ministers Dan Meridor and David Levy, former IDF spokeswoman Miri Regev, former basketball star Tal Brody and a number of CEOs of Israel's top companies have all been rumored to be exploring their options with the Likud, which polls predict will more than double its mandates.
Several Likud MKs expressed outrage at reports on Monday of a petition circulating among Likud central committee members calling for two slots among every 10 on the Likud Knesset list to be reserved for candidates selected by the party chairman.
Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu's spokesman released a statement denying any connection to the petition.
He said there were many proposals among party activists on the issue of reserving places on the list, but that Netanyahu had not expressed an opinion on the matter, which would be decided democratically in the party's institutions.
But Netanyahu's denial did not appease angry MKs who are concerned that their place in the next cabinet and even the next Knesset could be in doubt if Netanyahu is allowed to reserve that many slots for people who would not have to compete to gain support from the 100,000 Likud members who will vote for the party's Knesset slate.
MK Yisrael Katz, who chairs the Likud's governing secretariat, said he doubted that such a proposal could pass in the Likud central committee, because it would require a two-thirds majority of the members present at a committee meeting.
"We should trust the Likud members to select the best possible list," Katz said. "Any attempt to appoint people without elections is unacceptable and and would deal a blow to democracy in the party."
Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar and MK Yuval Steinitz released a rare joint statement calling the proposal "mistaken and damaging."
After the last general election, they said, the central committee had decided to allow Likud members to select the next Knesset list, instead of just committee members, and such a reform should not be overturned.
"The democracy in the Likud is the foundation of its strength," Sa'ar and Steinitz said in their statement. "The Likud cannot break the promise it made to its members and voters."
Likud MK Yuli Edestein said parties like Kadima and Israel Beiteinu that appointed their Knesset candidates "not only didn't bring the gospel, they deteriorated democracy and harmed the public's trust in the political system."
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