Netanyahu wins Supreme Court case on Likud race

Move made "to allow ministers to feel flexible in future diplomatic votes," minister says.

binyamin netanyahu 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
binyamin netanyahu 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may have had a tough time fighting the administration in Washington over the past few days, but he won a battle with the Likud’s right wing on Thursday, when the Supreme Court ruled that the party can delay an election for a new Likud central committee.
The court said the Likud could hold a vote on changing the party’s constitution to allow the central committee race to be moved from April 28, when Likud hawks wanted it, to September 2011, when Netanyahu wanted it.
The prime minister’s associates hope the decision will enable new members who are more dovish to join the party and elect a less right-wing central committee and Knesset slate before the next election.
Hawkish MK Danny Danon, who led the effort against the prime minister, said he would accept the court’s decision and work to defeat Netanyahu in the vote on changing the Likud constitution that will be held next month.
“We will beat Bibi in the cental committee, because most of the central committee wants democracy,” Danon said.
Netanyahu’s associates praised the court’s decision and said they never doubted that the court would overturn a ruling issued by the Tel Aviv District Court last month preventing him from delaying the race.
When Netanyahu changed his mind about holding a vote after the earlier ruling, his move was greeted with headlines accusing him of zigzagging. His critics in the party questioned his political acumen and compared him to a man who argues about the cost of a discounted item in a store, ends up paying double, and leaves without it.
But the prime minister’s associates said at the time that he decided hewould have a better chance of delaying the vote by appealing to theSupreme Court. Asked why he had put all his political weight ondelaying the central committee race, a minister close to Netanyahu saidit was important for the prime minister to enable a mass voterregistration drive to take place before the new central committee waselected. He said the current Likud membership was too right-wing andgave hawkish Likud activist Moshe Feiglin too much power over Likudministers and MKs, whose political future rested in the hands ofFeiglin and his allies.
“Delaying the [election] until after a [membership drive] is intendedto allow ministers to feel flexible in future diplomatic votes,” theLikud minister said. “Had the influence of Feiglin and other powerbrokers been watered down, ministers and MKs would not have been underpressure to act more right-wing than they really are.”