Inner tension in Likud spills over two weeks after primary

Reports of irregularities are still being examined.

 OPPOSITION LEADER Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset last week. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
OPPOSITION LEADER Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset last week.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Internal disputes in the Likud flared this week amid tension in the party which has remained high since its primary election on August 10.

MK David Bitan and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly had a falling out over Netanyahu’s intervention in the primary on a number of issues.

These include Netanyahu’s move to shift the election of the party’s 10 regional representatives from the Likud Central Committee to the residents of each region.

Bitan and other MKs such as Haim Katz had a lot of influence over the central committee, which they lost due to the change.

N12 reported on Wednesday that Bitan shouted at one of Netanyahu’s aides, “Get out of here, you are all [expletives] sons of [expletives]. You are giving briefings against me and you worked against me, I will show you [what I can do].” Bitan denied that he had said this.

David Bitan in Knesset on February 5, 2018. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)David Bitan in Knesset on February 5, 2018. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

A second issue was the candidacy of David Laniado in the Tel Aviv District. Netanyahu went out of his way to ensure that Laniado would be disqualified from participating in the primary.

Laniado, who was reportedly affiliated with Bitan, was convicted in the past for breaking and entering and for assault, and Netanyahu did not want to have to deal with his criminal record in the general election.

Laniado was initially allowed to run but his candidacy was struck down at the last minute after the Likud appealed the initial decision.

Laniado has not given up, and petitioned the High Court this week, arguing that his disqualification was mistaken. He demanded a repeat vote in the Tel Aviv District.

Bitan also resigned in protest as the Likud’s representative in the Central Election Committee, and was replaced by lawyer Ilan Bombach.

The second quarrel

Another quarrel reportedly broke out between MKs May Golan and Eti Atiah, and between Atiah and MK Keti Shitrit who were closely bunched at the back end of the Likud’s list.

Golan ended up winning the 32nd spot and Atiah ended up gaining more votes than Shitrit and occupied the 35th spot on the list, which according to most polls is a realistic spot to enter the Knesset. Shitrit was pushed back to number 39.

Atiah is a protégé of MK Haim Katz, and Shitrit took issue with her victory. In a recording that reached Israel Hayom Shitrit said to Atiah, “Shut up, shut up, who do you think you are, everyone thinks you are an idiot and that you are devious.” Atiah responded, “May God pay you [what you deserve].”

The two reportedly made up on Thursday morning at a meeting mediated by Shomron Regional Council head Yossi Dagan. The Likud put out a photo of the two, agreeing that “safeguarding the land of Israel and the Right’s victory in the election is the only thing to which we are all committed.”

A number of appeals were also filed after routine examinations of ballot boxes found some irregularities.

For example, following an appeal in the coastal plain region, lawyer Shai Galili, who initially finished hundreds of votes behind winner Eli Dalal, ended up only 90 votes behind.

The Likud’s Election Committee, however, denied Galili’s demand for an official recount. The winner of the coastal plain region occupies the 29th spot on the list, and Galili may appeal the result in the High Court.