Likud primary race set for December 8

Slots reserved for women and immigrants, but not for stars; former police chief Assaf Hefetz joins party.

Asaf Hefetz 248 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Asaf Hefetz 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Likud will elect its list for the Knesset on December 8, midway between Labor's December 2 primary and the December 17 race in Kadima, the party's law committee decided Thursday. The move requires the approval of the Likud Central Committee on Sunday. The date was chosen to showcase the Likud's Knesset list without having to compete with other parties for air time. Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu hopes that electing many respected public figures will give the party a boost ahead of the February 10 general election. Netanyahu decided against reserving slots on the party's list for any of the celebrities who have joined the party, but the committee did reserve slots 10, 20, 24, 29 and 34 for women and 21 and 30 for new immigrants. The Likud's 100,000 members will each select 10 candidates among the current and former MKs and newcomers expected to run for slots 2 to 19 on the list. They will also vote for a candidate in one of the slots between 22 and 33 on the list that are reserved for newcomers representing different regions. The 35th slot was reserved for a young candidate. Former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon, who is still being courted by the Likud, will have until November 25 to decide whether to run, as the committee set that as the deadline for candidates to join the race. Former police chief Assaf Hefetz announced Thursday that he would be joining the party and running in the primary. Speaking to reporters at a press conference with Netanyahu at the Likud's Tel Aviv headquarters, Hefetz defended his decision to join Likud after leaving Labor just two months ago. "A man can change his opinions in light of what happens," Hefetz said. "The sole consideration in my move to the Likud is the good of the Israeli people. "I was a Labor Party member, but canceled my membership. Over the last few years, the public has lost a sense of personal security." Hefetz said he was interested in serving as public security minister, but Netanyahu stressed that no promises had been made regarding jobs in a future government. "I believe we will be able to establish a new government with a new direction, a government that will be able to deal with the various challenges," the opposition leader said. Netanyahu and Hefetz then went on to present the Likud's crime-fighting plan. "There are three things we want to do: make punishment more severe, increase the number of policemen serving on the force, and establish specialized units that will provide better policing," said Netanyahu. At the end of the conference, Hefetz thanked the Likud chairman and said, "We will have a historic opportunity when Netanyahu runs for prime minister. I hope he is elected, because his agenda is returning security to the citizens of Israel." Former Likud MK Michael Ratzon, who also joined the race on Thursday, lashed out at Netanyahu for bringing so many people into the Likud whose values were different than the party's. His comments were directed at Hefetz and former IDF deputy chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan. "We need to ask ourselves what made these stars, as some people call them, join the Likud specifically at this time," Ratzon said in a press conference at Tel Aviv's Beit Sokolow. "Some of them completely accept the party's beliefs, but not all of them. They are joining because we are getting complimentary polls and the seats look realistic." Former defense minister Moshe Arens came to Ratzon's press conference to endorse him, but Arens himself is not running. Former ambassador to the US Zalman Shoval, who is running, was appointed by Netanyahu on Thursday to be in charge of the Likud's economic platform.