Fate of Yisrael Beytenu-Likud union to be decided today

Liberman to convene MKs, top activists at Yisrael Beytenu’s HQ to decide whether party will run on its own in next election.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman will convene MKs and top activists at Yisrael Beytenu’s Jerusalem headquarters Tuesday to decide whether the party will run on its own in the next general election.
Polls have indicated that both the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu would receive significantly more seats in the next Knesset if they run apart. Yisrael Beytenu has held several rallies around the country to let party activists have their say, culminating in a major event last Thursday in Ashkelon.
A party source said a decision is likely to be made to run separately, but to keep the current Likud Beytenu faction together until then. That decision could change if a Likud MK is elected president and the number of Yisrael Beytenu MKs rises.
Liberman told reporters in the Knesset cafeteria last week that he did not believe the current government would come close to completing its term, which is set to end on November 7, 2017. He ruled out speculation about a shakeup of parties that would result in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu splitting the Likud and running together with Yisrael Beytenu and Hatnua.
Netanyahu had wanted the bond with Yisrael Beytenu to continue in the next election.
But strong opposition inside the Likud central committee forced him to abandon his effort to pass a proposal that would empower him to merge the two parties.
The agenda Netanyahu set for the next Likud convention on March 23 surprisingly did not include canceling the special majority vote required for a merger, making passing it nearly impossible. Giving into hawks on the committee, Netanyahu committed to holding a series of sessions on diplomatic issues.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, who heads the committee, is expected to present alternative proposals at the convention that could make it harder for Netanyahu to run the party. Danon and other Likud hawks want to use the party’s institutions to try to prevent the prime minister from withdrawing from land in Judea and Samaria.