Settler leaders happy Netanyahu won [pg. 3]

Settler leaders were pleased to see Binyamin Netanyahu return to the Likud's helm on Tuesday. "I am very happy with Netanyahu's victory," said National Union leader Benny Elon. It is important that the Likud not turn into a rightwing party, said Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shaul Goldstein. It should be a party that appeals to the center but leans toward the right, so it can remain a major political player in the government, he said. "If it were to turn "orange" [pro-settler] we [the Likud] would lose a lot of voters," said Goldstein, who is a member of the Likud. It is better a rightleaning Likud in addition to a right wing party, such as the National Union, said Goldstein. His views were echoed by the head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, Benzi Lieberman. The Likud should be the "right-light" he said. Both Goldstein and Lieberman supported Netanyahu over Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom or Moshe Feiglin. Shalom, he said, was too much in the center and Feiglin too far to the right. Lieberman said that while Feiglin supported many of the Council's ideals, he had not believed he would succeed in Monday's leadership elections. He had feared that Feiglin would take votes away from Netanyahu, thus allowing Shalom to take over the party. Lieberman said he is also pleased that Netanyahu is surrounded by right-leaning MKs such as Uzi Landau, Michael Ratzon and Reuven Rivlin. Goldstein said it is also important that there is a right-leaning center party that deals with domestic issues of the day such as education, poverty and immigration. But, he warned, this is just the first step. The composition of the Knesset list would also send a signal to voters as to the Likud's party's priorities. Lieberman, who is not a member of the Likud, said he is still hopeful that the National Union and the National Religious Party would unite to form a joint list for the upcoming elections. He fears that the failure of the two parties to come together would deter voters from going to the polls in the March elections. He also said he did not believe it was possible to create a bloc with the Likud and those two parties until after the elections. But Eran Sternberg, the former spokesman for the Hof Aza Regional Council, said he believed that Feiglin was the true leader of the Likud and should have been chosen. "Feiglin is [former prime minister] Menachem Begin, before he gave up Yamit," said Sternberg.