Elkin to remain coalition chairman

Netanyahu will not fire Elkin despite feeling that coalition chair's efforts to pass the "outpost bill" undermined him, Likud sources say.

Zeev Elkin 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Zeev Elkin 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided against firing coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin, despite his support for the controversial “outpost bill” that was defeated in the Knesset, sources in the Likud said Thursday.
Netanyahu felt undermined by Elkin’s efforts to pass the bill that would have retroactively legalized unauthorized West Bank Jewish construction.
His associates accused Elkin of serving as a fifth column for the settlers and for far-right Likud activist Moshe Feiglin.
But Netanyahu decided he would need Elkin’s support on key issues the coalition will face soon, including finding an alternative to the “Tal Bill” that would equalize IDF service and changing the electoral system. Also, efforts to find a replacement for Elkin in the Likud faction came up empty.
Netanyahu’s former spokesman, MK Ophir Akunis, voted for the outpost bill and did not express interest in the post. MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen, who voted against the bill, also turned down the job.
It was also unclear whether Shama-Hacohen, who has enemies in the Likud, could have defeated Elkin in a secret-ballot vote, which is required to elect a new chairman of the Likud faction and the coalition.
“The chairman of the coalition is doing a terrific job, and I don’t intend to run against him,” Shama-Hacohen said.
Elkin said he was proud of his vote for the bill. He said he would have welcomed competition for his job and would have honored the results of the vote if he was unseated.
Feiglin released a statement saying that the many Likud MKs who voted for the bill despite the prime minister’s opposition proved that the thousands of rightists who became Likud members had already made a significant impact on the party.
The Mattot Arim organization, which monitors right-wing MKs’ loyalty to the Land of Israel, expressed support for the prime minister’s decision to keep Elkin in his post.
“We think Elkin should remain coalition head,” Mattot Arim spokeswoman Susie Dym said. “It is one thing for the political system to chicken out of doing what needs to be done for the Land of Israel. It’s another thing entirely for someone to cut the heads off of the very legislators who are doing what needs to be done. Elkin is a serious legislator who has been effective on behalf of half a million Israelis living in strategic land located beyond the 1967 Auschwitz borders, so why fire him?”