Netanyahu to run for Likud ‘convention’ head

Convention to decide how Likud's next Knesset slate should be elected, whether the PM should be allowed to reserve slots.

Netanyahu Likud 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netanyahu Likud 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took a step to prevent the far Right from taking over his party when he announced Monday he would seek the chairmanship of the Likud convention in an election expected to take place in two months.
The convention is the name given to the Likud central committee immediately after its election. It can pass resolutions affecting the party’s future by a simple majority before voting itself as a new central committee in which special majorities are needed.
The two key issues on the convention’s agenda will be deciding how the Likud’s next Knesset slate should be elected and whether the prime minister should be given the right to reserve slots that could be used for Defense Minister Ehud Barak or defectors from Kadima.
Netanyahu vowed to prevent the convention from passing a proposal that would restore the central committee’s right to vote for the Likud’s MKs. The central committee had that right until 2006 when Netanyahu persuaded them to give it up and give it to all Likud members in order to improve the party’s image.
“We will not let the Likud go in the wrong direction,” Netanyahu told his faction at the Knesset. “The Likud is on the right path and the public knows it.”
Netanyahu recalled the days when Knesset candidates resorted to giving out free hot dogs to central committee members in an effort to win their votes. He said the party could not afford to return to what he called “corruption.”
“The current method of electing our MKs is not perfect, but when you have a headache, you do not cut your head off,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister was backed up by ministers Gideon Sa’ar, Moshe Kahlon, and Limor Livnat.
But Likud convention member Eli Cornfeld from Ashkelon said no one was powerful enough to persuade central committee members from empowering themselves with the right to pick the Likud’s Knesset slate.
“The central committee is back,” he said. “I don’t know a single central committee member who would vote against having influence.”
Netanyahu will run for convention chairman against Minister- without-Portfolio Michael Eitan and MK Danny Danon.
Eitan and Danon want to form a new body of 10,000 key Likud activists to pick the slate. Eitan told Netanyahu his work as prime minister would prevent him from leading the convention. He warned if Netanyahu is elected, he will run the convention by remote control via advisers, key discussions will not take place, and it will be a mere rubber stamp for directives from above.
“With all the national challenges on your shoulders, you won’t be able to run properly the affairs of the state and the Likud convention, which can and should be run by others,” Eitan told Netanyahu at the Likud faction meeting.
Danon announced his candidacy for the post months ago in an effort to prevent Netanyahu from being given the right to reserve a slot on the Likud’s next Knesset list for Barak.