158 Likud candidates to run for Knesset

Record number to join race for representation compared to 77 contestants in Kadima, 43 in Labor.

Yaalon bibi 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Yaalon bibi 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A record number of Knesset candidates - 158 - registered to run in the December 8 Likud primary by Wednesday evening's deadline. The list includes candidates as young as 27-year-old Gadi Yavarkan and as old as 78-year-old former MK Zalman Shoval. By contrast, 77 contestants are running in Kadima's December 17 primary, 43 in Labor's primary next Tuesday and 22 in the Meretz election on December 14. Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu succeeded in bringing in all the celebrities about whom there had been speculation, except for former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir's son, Israel Aircraft Industries head Yair Shamir, who said he could not run for financial and personal reasons. The candidate on whom most of the attention was focused in the Likud on Wednesday was far-Right activist Moshe Feiglin, whose Jewish leadership forum inside the Likud held a mass rally at Jerusalem's Ramada Hotel Wednesday night. Netanyahu's advisers warned Likud candidates not to attend the event. Feiglin responded that he was not extreme, that he did not bite and that he feared only God and his wife. "I want to tell Netanyahu that my hand is stretched out to you," Feiglin told the crowd. "Our goal has to be to return to the days when we had 48 MKs, and the way to do that is to unite and open our arms to everyone." None of the 12 sitting Likud MKs attended. However, former MKs Gila Gamliel, David Mena, Daniel Ben-Lulu and Ayoub Kara came, as did new candidates Boaz Ha'etzni, who is running for a slot reserved for a candidate from Judea and Samaria; Sagiv Asulin, who is seeking a slot reserved for a young candidate; and two candidates for the immigrant slots, Asya Entov from Russia and Shmuel Sackett from New York. Sackett made news when he was convicted of sedition along with Feiglin for blocking streets during demonstrations against the Oslo Accords. In his speech, he said that if elected, he would bring all Diaspora Jews to Israel and improve the food at the Knesset cafeteria.