Likud ministers clash ahead of internal election

Erdan, Katz trade verbal jabs before Sunday's elections as Likud members go to polls to fill several positions in party leadership.

June 29, 2013 22:58
2 minute read.

ISRAEL KATZ 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Communications Minister Gilad Erdan and Transportation Minister Israel Katz attacked each other fiercely on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s elections for the heads of the Likud’s institutions.

Katz is to defend his title as chairman of Likud’s secretariat, which controls the party’s finances, against MK Miri Regev, who is strongly supported by Erdan and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar.

“The Likud secretariat was paralyzed over the past decade, and there is a clear address,” Erdan said. “Katz, who has headed the secretariat for 10 years, is responsible for cutbacks to the Likud branches and the paralysis of the Likud’s administration.

The secretariat served the interests of its head and not of the party.”

Erdan rejected charges that he chose not to run himself out of fear of losing and put up a weak candidate in Regev because she was the only one he could persuade to run. He said he supported Regev rather than running himself because he believes on principle that ministers must devote all their time to their ministries.

Katz attacked Erdan and Sa’ar in a letter to the 3,623 Likud central committee members eligible to vote in Sunday’s election. He said he would investigate the party’s campaign team in January’s election, which was headed by Sa’ar and Erdan.

“We need to investigate what happened in the election in order to reach conclusions and learn lessons for the future,” Katz wrote. “The investigation must find out how a party that had NIS 56 million in its coffers and led a government with unprecedented achievements won only 20 mandates and was left in debt. I can testify to my work for the party and I expect my colleagues to do the same.”

Regev vowed to restore the Likud to its activists if she emerged victorious. Her associates said she believed she was on the way to victory.

But Likud officials said the fact that Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom had stopped working actively for Regev was a sign that he realized her race had no chance. In an interview with Channel 10 in Regev’s presence, Shalom said unenthusiastically that she was a “fitting candidate.”

Besides the secretariat, Likud activists are to select a new head of the party’s central committee, ideological committee, law committee and internal court. Polls are to be open for 12 hours in Israel’s 10 largest cities.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has not endorsed any candidates, is to vote from his office for security reasons.

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, who is the leading candidate to replace former minister Moshe Kahlon as central committee head, said the fight over the chairmanship of the secretariat would increase turnout in the election, which he said was good for him. Danon’s opponents include Michael Fuah, an aide to MK Moshe Feiglin, and Haifa activist Herzl Akko.

Central committee member Eli Cornfeld dropped out of the race and endorsed Fuah, because he was concerned that Danon would hesitate to make big changes in the party.

“He will be a soldier of Bibi [Netanyahu], because he wants to be a minister,” Cornfeld said. “He will serve the establishment.”

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