Netanyahu: Likud must remain an open, decentralized party

PM continues campaign to lead the Likud Central Committee, says all Likud members should be allowed to choose its Knesset candidates.

Netanyahu Likud 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netanyahu Likud 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continued his campaign to lead the Likud Central Committee on Monday, telling the party’s MKs that all Likud members should be allowed to choose its Knesset candidates.
Last week, Netanyahu announced he would run for central committee chairmanship.
The vote will take place on March 22, during the first central committee convention in more than a decade. The committee determines the party’s constitution, budget and other details. Government Services Minister Michael Eitan and MK Danny Danon are running against Netanyahu for the central committee chairmanship.
The prime minister presented a Bloomberg article about economic growth, attributing the success to policies of opening the market and making it more competitive.
Netanyahu then explained that the same rules apply to the Likud, which grew to lead the current government. Power used to be very centralized, allowing only 3,000 central committee members to choose the MK list, he said, and now the party is more open, so that all 130,000 members can elect candidates.
“We must continue in moving away from a centralized, closed party,” he added, “and we will continue to develop the growing economy.”
Last week, Netanyahu was quoted as threatening to break off from the Likud if power was returned to the committee.
Soon after, activists offered him a compromise, in which only the MKs representing different regions and sectors would be chosen by the central committee.
However, they said the committee should have the right to veto ministers selected by the prime minister.
Also on Monday, Eitan called for the elections for the central committee’s chairmanship and presidency to be conducted by secret ballot.
The minister explained that the reasoning behind his call is to allow central committee activists to vote “without any worry or unpleasantness,” a thinly-veiled reference to those who fear incurring Netanyahu’s wrath by voting against him.
Currently, central committee votes take place by raise of hand, with each member’s name and choice declared out loud. Eitan seeks to have a private voting booth instated at the convention next month.
According to the Likud’s constitution, 10 percent of central committee members are enough to demand such a vote. Eitan made a form available on his website for committee members to sign and send to his office.