Netanyahu accused of conspiring to bring down right-wingers

Feiglin's loyalists accuse Netanyahu of working behind the scenes to remove other rightists from realistic slots.

Netanyahu pouts like a chimp 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Netanyahu pouts like a chimp 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Just three days after Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu succeeded in bringing about the demotion of his nemesis, Moshe Feiglin, from the 20th slot on the Likud list to the 36th, Feiglin's loyalists accused Netanyahu on Sunday of working behind the scenes to remove other rightists from realistic slots. Netanyahu denied any involvement in the appeal to the Likud elections committee that led to the demotions of Feiglin and former Likud rebel MKs Michael Ratzon and Ehud Yatom. His associates said it was a coincidence that the appeal was filed by Netanyahu's former spokesman, Knesset candidate Ophir Akunis (No. 26 on the list). Now Feiglin's loyalists believe that Netanyahu is behind a series of appeals and leaks that have targeted other candidates who are seen as on the far right. A unknown Likud activist from Tiberias named Yossi Mizrahi appealed to the elections committee on Sunday to disqualify Boaz Haetzni, who was voted into the 34th slot on the list, which is reserved for a candidate from Judea and Samaria. In the appeal, Mizrahi charged that Haetzni was convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude and that he had distributed an e-mail calling for the boycott of Likud candidates in the November municipal elections who supported the Gaza Strip disengagement in 2005. If proven, either allegation would result in Haetzni's disqualification and his replacement on the list by the man who ran against him for the slot, Yossi Fuchs, who was backed by Netanyahu. Haetzni said the moral turpitude charge had already been thrown out because it was untrue and that he expected the committee to dismiss the second charge as well. He said he had never met Mizrahi and it was clear that he was representing someone else. "I don't know who is behind the story," Haetzni said. "It could be part of the Bibi vs Feiglin story. It could be leftists in the Likud. It could even be [former MK] Omri Sharon. I don't know if the committee would disqualify me with such lame accusations. They are trying to use nonsense in a non-serious way to bring me down." Another rightist candidate, World Likud chairman Danny Danon, was the subject of a leak to Channel 2 news on Sunday night that could lead to his disqualification in favor of the candidate who finished second in the race for a slot reserved for a candidate from the coast between Tel Aviv and Haifa, former basketball star Tal Brody. According to the report, the elections committee hired an investigator who found that Danon did not live in the region and that he had falsely reported that he had moved from a moshav, because the coastal region was located 11 places higher on the list than the slot reserved for a candidate from the moshavim. Danon responded that he moved to Tel Mond in February for personal reasons. He said the report was based on a court case against him filed by the head of the Likud's Netanya branch, Dudu Maimon, who ran against Danon and Brody and had tried unsuccessfully to disqualify Danon before the race. But Feiglin's loyalists said the report did not come from Maimon, but from Netanyahu and his associates. "It is clear that Bibi and his people are behind the attempts to remove Danon and Haetzni," Feiglin spokesman Amnon Shomron said. "Bibi wants his people to enter the Knesset and it is no coincidence that Danon and Haetzni are both right-wing and both were supported by Feiglin." Likud officials responded that there was no connection between the appeal against Haetzni and the report about Danon, and that neither originated from the Likud leadership. "Netanyahu is not trying to remove either one of them," a senior Likud official said. "Both Haetzni and Danon will apparently remain on Likud's list."