Coalition chair: Netanyahu to lose power if he evacuates settlements

In Al-Monitor interview, Yariv Levin warns PM that ceding land will lose him Likud power base, bring early elections.

YARIV LEVIN 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received a stern warning on Tuesday from the head of his coalition, Yariv Levin, not to make a deal with the Palestinian Authority that would require relinquishing any Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Speaking to the Middle East news site Al-Monitor, Levin said that not only would he give up his own job if such a deal were made, but Netanyahu himself would lose his post.
“I assume that the possibility of a diplomatic move on the part of Bibi [Netanyahu] is there,” Levin said. “But I also know that he stands no chance of passing such a resolution.
And even assuming that, under certain circumstances, Netanyahu will be in a position to muster a majority in the Knesset, once that happens, he will lose his power base in the Likud Party and will no longer be able to serve as prime minister. He will then have to go to early elections.”
Labor leadership candidate Isaac Herzog, who is a former coalition chairman, said Levin’s threat was proof that Netanyahu’s government had fallen to a new nadir. He called upon Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is leading negotiations with the Palestinians, to seek clarification from Netanyahu.
“Beyond the embarrassing tone of the words and the disrespect for the prime minister, Netanyahu stands before a critical test of whether to continue with a real diplomatic process or surrender to the axis of Yariv Levin and [deputy defense minister] Danny Danon,” Herzog said.
Danon also threatened the prime minister when he told The Jerusalem Post last week that Netanyahu could be forced out of Likud by party activists.
“It can happen if he decides to endorse Livni’s views,” he said. “A deal giving up most of Judea and Samaria – the current Likud leadership will not accept that. We [who oppose such steps] are the majority in the party. Something so important [as giving up land] cannot be done via political tricks.”
Levin said it would be very difficult to split Likud and he did not believe Netanyahu could form an alliance with Yesh Atid or Labor.
“I don’t think that he is interested in [splitting Likud] or that such a move is at all feasible,” Levin said. “Yet, we must remain vigilant. Politically, Netanyahu has a solid position in the Likud, and if he pursues his current policy, he will enjoy the backing of his faction, as well as public support.”