POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Regev-Edelstein feud rears its head again

Likud primaries: Submarine affair suspect running in TA district against Sa’ar ally • Naguise shoo-in for new immigrant spot.

A sign on a Jerusalem bus proclaims, ‘The Likud is strength.’ (photo credit: ERICA SCHACHNE)
A sign on a Jerusalem bus proclaims, ‘The Likud is strength.’
(photo credit: ERICA SCHACHNE)
The feud between Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Culture Minister Miri Regev has made its way into the Likud primaries, with Regev telling party activists not to vote for Edelstein.
Likud members can vote for 12 candidates in the February 5 primary, and Regev told leading party bundlers not to vote for or recommend Edelstein, Channel 12 reported Thursday.
The row between the two leading Likudniks began ahead of Independence Day last year, when Regev sought to have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak at the annual torchlighters’ ceremony, where the Knesset speaker is traditionally the sole politician who gives a speech.
After weeks of a standoff, they agreed that Netanyahu would light a torch and only make brief remarks. In the end, Netanyahu spoke for 14 minutes.
Edelstein’s campaign heard about Regev blacklisting him weeks ago, but they have decided to take the high road.
“Yuli never tells anyone not to vote for someone,” a source close to the Knesset speaker said. “Our message speaks for itself, and it is not against anyone.”
TA fight
Another Likud feud is playing out in the primaries in the Tel Aviv district: Netanyahu versus former minister Gideon Sa’ar.
Netanyahu’s former chief of staff David Sharan is running against Michal Shir, a former aide to Sa’ar, whose labeling by many in the party and the media as Netanyahu’s successor has raised the prime minister’s hackles. Shir also worked for Netanyahu, but is thought to have remained close with Sa’ar.
The Tel Aviv spot is in the 29th place on the Likud list, giving the candidates a realistic shot to get into the Knesset.
Sharan is a suspect in Case 3000, known as the “Submarines Affair,” involving allegations that Israeli officials accepted bribes so that Israel would buy specific German submarines. Police recommended that Sharan be indicted on bribery and fraud charges.
Meanwhile, former Netanyahu aide Natan Eshel, who remains close with the prime minister, has made calls to top Likud activists in Tel Aviv encouraging them to vote for Sharan, Channel 12 reported.
Eshel was forced to resign from his position as bureau chief of the Prime Minister’s Office in 2012 and is forbidden from working in government jobs in the future, after he was caught sexually harassing another Netanyahu aide, including taking photos up her skirt.
Immigrant spot
MK Avraham Neguise is almost guaranteed to get into the next Knesset, after the Likud’s court ratified the central committee’s decision to let him run again for the new immigrant spot on the list.
Usually, the new immigrant spot is reserved for new candidates, but the rules were changed this time to allow Neguise to run again.
Binyamin Lachkar, who made aliyah from France, petitioned the Likud’s court against the change. But on Thursday, the court ruled against him, and Lachkar decided to withdraw from the race.
Some new immigrant candidates have not given up hope. Vladimir Herzberg, a nuclear physicist from the former Soviet Union, who ran against Netanyahu for leader of Likud in 2007 and 2014, still plans to run.