Steinitz might boycott Likud meeting on price increases

40% of Likudniks may not vote for party, poll finds; Lieberman reportedly says coalition may fall if IDF conversion bill doesn't pass.

311_Yuval Steinitz (photo credit: Tamar Matsafi)
311_Yuval Steinitz
(photo credit: Tamar Matsafi)
Embattled Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz may decide to boycott a meeting of the Likud central committee that will be convened soon to discuss escalating prices for gas, water, and bread, sources close to Steinitz said on Wednesday.
Likud MK Danny Danon announced that he had collected the number of signatures required to convene the committee.
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Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon, who heads the committee, endorsed Danon’s effort, leaving it up to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to set a date for the meeting.
“I’m not sure if he will come, because they will only talk about what they consider bad things, and not the good things Yuval has done,” Steinitz’s chief of staff David Sharan said. “If they want to convene the committee, it’s their problem, not ours. The Likud central committee is not the proper forum for a serious professional conversation.”
Danon said it was important to convene the committee to enable the party’s activists to send an important message to Netanyahu and Steinitz.
“They can’t decide everything on their own with the Finance Ministry clerks,” Danon said. “They have to remember that they are part of a party.”
A Sarid Institute poll broadcast on Channel 2 on Wednesday night found that 40 percent of respondents who voted for the Likud in the last election – which was held two years ago on Thursday – would not vote for the party in the next election. The poll found that 45% would vote Likud and 15% were undecided.
The same poll found, however, that the Likud would rise from 27 seats to 29. Kadima would win 33 seats, Israel Beiteinu 15, Shas and Labor eight each, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s new Independence faction would not pass the minimum threshold of 2%.
Thirty-two percent of those surveyed believed opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) most worthy to be prime minister, while only 28% chose Netanyahu.
Danon said he saw the anger of Likud voters first-hand, but he predicted that their outrage would subside long before the next election is held.
“They are very upset with us, but we will fix the problems and they will stay with us,” he said.
Sources close to Steinitz complained that weeks of criticism from Kadima did not have nearly the impact that four Likud MKs had when they attacked the finance minister in Monday’s Likud faction meeting.
“The complaints against Yuval came from backbench Likud MKs who are whining, because they are scared about the next election,” a Steinitz associate said. “They have become the biggest opposition to the government. If they can’t handle the pressure, maybe they shouldn’t be MKs anymore.”
Meanwhile, Channel 10 reported that at an Israel Beiteinu weekend at the Dead Sea, party chairman Avigdor Lieberman instructed his MKs and activists to start preparing for a general election if the IDF conversion bill does not pass.
“We shouldn’t just announce that we are leaving, we should get ready,” Lieberman said. “It could be that breaking up the coalition is the price to pass the bill.”