(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu must win the party's primaries by a landslide, said an official close to the chairman Thursday. "Anything less than an overwhelming victory is not acceptable.
Netanyahu's aides were surprised by a poll that was released by Reshet Bet radio Thursday morning, which showed the chairman receiving 62 percent of the vote, while contender Moshe Feiglin pulled in 24%. The poll, which was conducted among Likud Party members, gave Danny Danon 1% of the vote.
"Party members voting for other candidates are not taking the party's future seriously," the official said.
Associates of Netanyahu have made several efforts to block Feiglin's participation in the party primaries, claiming that he is not representative of the Likud's platform. Feiglin barely passed a vote in the party's central committee earlier this week, convening just one member of the committee to vote in his favor and allow his candidacy in the primaries.
On Thursday, the Labor's internal court held a preliminary hearing on a complaint that Feiglin should be thrown out of the party entirely for "representing views that are against the party's core." "Bibi [Netanyahu] has hired a high-profile expensive lawyer in the hope that he can wipe Feiglin out of the race," said a spokesman for Feiglin. "He is really acting with no class whatsoever, and showing his true, bullying tactics."
The court said it would make a decision on the issue within the next few days; it is not expected to remove Feiglin from the party.
Feiglin has said that under his leadership, the party would adopt a stronger policy of "Jewish Law." The statement apparently rang true with Likud voters, who also polled strongly in favor of a "center-right religious" coalition for the Likud. Sixty-one percent of those polled said they wanted a coalition with parties such as NU-NRP, and over 29% supported a coalition with the Labor Party.
Likud members were also asked who they would vote for if the party's Knesset list were chosen today. The members placed former MK Uzi Landau, known for his right-wing hawkish views, at the top of the list with Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon, MK Reuven Rivlin and MK Yuval Steinitz in quick succession. MK Silvan Shalom, who recently pulled out of the primaries likening the Likud under Netanyahu's control to Syria's Baath Party, was ranked 16 on the list.