Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu testified to the Likud’s internal court on Sunday that he felt compelled to act against people with left-wing views who have joined his party, because he believes it is necessary to save the country.
Netanyahu’s criticism was about a group of some 7,000 Likud activists called the New Likudniks, whom he has been trying to purge from the party. The former prime minister believes the group is infiltrating the party in an attempt to shift it leftward, a charge the group’s leaders deny.
“We see a danger to the existence of the Likud and that makes it a danger for the country,” Netanyahu told the court. “We saw six months ago people on the Right take the votes of the Right and give them to the Left in complete political trickery to topple the government. Now we see people trying to do that within our party – to enter the party pretending to be right-wing and then bring about the election of MKs with a left-wing agenda that is the opposite of ours. I am going all the way with this, because I am not ready to concede this party, which is the future of this country.”
Netanyahu expressed anger in the hearing at MK Israel Katz, who heads the Likud’s governing secretariat and has not ousted the activists. In an effort to appease Netanyahu, Katz appointed an internal Likud task force on the New Likudniks on Sunday. The task force will be chaired by Likud MK David Bitan.
Last week, the Likud’s internal court ruled that the New Likudniks cannot be removed from the party en masse and must be dealt with individually according to proper procedure.
Likud faction chairman Yariv Levin testified to the court that he resisted many offers to meet with the Likudniks and make political deals with them.
“I am not ready to endanger the Likud and destroy the party from inside to get a few votes in the primaries,” Levin said.
Meanwhile, United Torah Judaism MK Ya’acov Litzman revealed on Sunday that this will be his last term as a member of Knesset. He said he would leave regardless of what happens in the legal cases against him.
Litzman has been an MK since 1999, except when he resigned under the Norwegian Law, which enables ministers to be replaced by the next candidate on their Knesset list. He is the Knesset’s second oldest MK behind Bennie Begin.
“If there will be new elections, I won’t run,” he told the Knesset Channel. “I won’t compete for the Knesset again. At my age, after 23 years in the Knesset, I don’t want to get to the point where I have to be dragged around the Knesset. New young forces need to be given a chance.”