Likud hawks skeptical about Dayan joining party

Activists warned that the former IDF deputy chief of General Staff would follow in the footsteps of Sharon, Mofaz by leaving party.

Uzi Dayan, 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Uzi Dayan, 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
New Likud Knesset candidate Uzi Dayan received a warm welcome in his joint press conference with Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and in his first meeting with the Likud faction on Monday, but got a cold shoulder from hawks in the Likud central committee. The Likud activists warned that Dayan would follow in the footsteps of Ariel Sharon, Yitzhak Mordechai and Shaul Mofaz - all acclaimed generals who came to the Likud with great fanfare and served as defense minister on the party's behalf, but eventually abandoned the party for more centrist political frameworks. "Kadima-style ideological acrobatics is corruption no less dangerous and grave than financial corruption," said far-right activist Moshe Feiglin. "Likud members should prevent such corruption from entering the Knesset from within the ranks of their party." Likud hawks warned that Dayan supported the Oslo Accords and the unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. They noted that in the last election, Dayan's Tafnit Party ran on a platform of unilateral separation from the Palestinians in the West Bank and even published a map with final borders that were far from what would be supported by the Likud. "Bibi brought another leftist to the Likud," said Natan Engelsman, a resident of Shilo who heads the Likud's Binyamin branch and serves as secretary of the Judea and Samaria region. "I wish Dayan well, but he doesn't belong here in a nationalist party. He just wants to enter the Knesset, and he realizes that the Likud is the best way for now. But he will probably leave when the party is no longer convenient for him, just like other generals did before him." A Likud central committee member named Haim wrote on Likud's activist Web site Likudnik: "Instead of bringing back Uzi Landau, they are bringing us an Uzi who supported the disengagement." Dayan responded by vowing to be loyal to the Likud and to work to make it more centrist. He said he spoke at Likud central committee meetings twice in the last two years and was received with "enthusiasm and love." "My joining strengthens the centrists in the Likud," Dayan said. "[Tafnit's] map was for unilateral separation, which has not been relevant since the Second Lebanon War. Now, what's important is defeating Hamas, isolating Syria and preventing the nuclearization of Iran. Until we restore security, any ideas we had before about how to divide the land are irrelevant." Dayan also received criticism from the Left. A veteran Labor Party official said the "Dayan family always puts their own personal advancement ahead of ideology." Labor officials noted that Dayan tried to negotiate a merger between Tafnit and Labor, a charge Dayan denied. "It is laughable that Dayan chose a party that made corruption so popular in Israeli politics," Meretz chairman Haim Oron said. "Dayan is yet another example of a man who vows to reform politics and ends up becoming yet another politician out for his own interests." At the press conference, Dayan said Tafnit would be merging with the Likud and that an agreement between the two parties would be brought to their institutions for approval. He said Netanyahu told him he would be "part of the Likud leadership" but denied that he had been guaranteed any specific position. "I am coming as an equal," Dayan said. "All that has been offered me is hard work. I didn't ask for a reserved slot [with Likud] and I have not been promised a reserved slot." Netanyahu said he would exercise his right as Likud chairman to ask the party's governing secretariat to cut the minimum three-year waiting period for a new member to run for office. He said he would do the same for other well-known figures who joined the Likud, but declined to name names. "More people will come who can make significant contributions to the party and the country," Netanyahu said.