Likud panel vote goes against Feiglin

Central committee approves Netanyahu's request to change the party's primary voting system.

feiglin 298 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
feiglin 298
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
The Likud central committee on Tuesday night approved chairman Binyamin Netanyahu's request to change the party's primary voting system, in a move intended to minimize the chances of far-right activist Moshe Feiglin landing one of the top 12 slots on its Knesset candidates list. The committee rejected Feiglin's petition to hold a secret ballot on the initiative, with the committee members claiming the signatures presented to it weren't kosher; many names appeared more than once and many of the signatories weren't present, as required by party regulations. Following the committee's decision, an open vote was held in which it was decided that Likud members would select 12, instead of 10, Knesset candidates in next Monday's primary. It was also decided that new immigrants would run for reserved slots 21 and 30 in a separate primary vote, and that another slot would be reserved for the district representatives. Feiglin counts some 7,000 supporters among the roughly 100,000 Likud members who will be going to the ballot boxes next week. Besides himself, Feiglin has been backing 10 other candidates, including Asia Antov, the immigrant Netanyahu's initiative had been directed against. In an effort to hurt Antov's chances, Netanyahu had convened the Likud's central committee and asked that special slots be reserved for new immigrant candidates - a move intended to stack the odds against Antov and in favor ex-Kadima MK Ze'ev Elkin. In addition, Netanyahu has been spearheading an initiative to increase from 10 to 15 the number of candidates each Likud member could vote for, but following firm objections from Likud MKs and Feiglin's support of the initiative, Netanyahu lowered the maximum number to 12. Feiglin is running for the Likud list against Netanyahu's will. After losing to Netanyahu by a landslide in the previous Likud leadership race, Feiglin began to refer to himself as "the No. 2 man in Likud." On Tuesday night Feiglin challenged Netanyahu and called on him to run again for the party leadership. "We all got used to the fact that voting Left means getting Left and when you vote Right you get disengagement. I will stop this process and I will stay loyal to my principles and to the voters, and also to those who boo me here," Feiglin said at the committee meeting, during which hundreds of Likud members heckled him and called on him to "go home." "A Likud that has room for Uzi Dayan but not for Effi Eitam is not Likud but Kadima. A Likud that has room for Dan Meridor and not for Moshe Feiglin is not Likud but Kadima," Feiglin said. The rivalry between Netanyahu and Feiglin got even uglier on Tuesday morning when Feiglin called Netanyahu an anti-Semite who had an "auto anti-Semite gene" and who preferred to belong to the Ashkenazi elite rather than represent the common people. In response, Likud MK Michael Eitan said, "This statement, which comes after other extreme and racist statements in the past, is Feiglin's declaration of war on the Likud." "These sorts of things shouldn't be said of rivals, let alone of the chairman of the party under which Feiglin hopes to be elected to the Knesset. He who votes for Feiglin votes against the Likud," Eitan said. Eitan called on Likud MKs to join in him condemning Feiglin's statements. The Likud also issued a statement in response to the remarks: "Feiglin's words constitute a decisive proof of why he shouldn't be on the party's Knesset list. Such statements should be firmly condemned by all factions and surely reveal why he shouldn't be supported," the statement reads.