Netanyahu Loyalists Get Top Spots in Likud Primaries

By Hamodia Staff

Head of the opposition and the Likud party Binyamin Netanyahu casts his vote in the Likud primaries, Thursday. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM — Loyalists of Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu emerged on top in the party’s primaries, while would-be challengers to his longtime leadership were put in their (lower) places, according to the final tallies on Thursday.

Yariv Levin, the party whip and chief negotiator for Netanyahu, took the No. 2 spot after Netanyahu himself, one of six of his supporters in the top 10 spots.

On the other hand, former Knesset speaker and No. 2 in the party, Yuli Edelstein, who last year had talked about mounting a challenge against Netanyahu but then backed down, slid to No. 15. He withdrew in June, reportedly due to pressure from within the Likud.

On Thursday evening, Edelstein was quoted by Kan news as telling confidants that he will quit the party if he is not named minister in the next government.

It is not immediately clear whether that meant quitting politics altogether, defecting to another party or starting a new one.

Other supporters of Netanyahu in the top 10 were Yoav Kisch, who spearheaded efforts to bring down the Bennett-Lapid coalition, former ministers Amir Ohana, Miri Regev, Eli Cohen and former coalition whip Miki Zohar.

Former coalition whip David Bitan, Likud Central Committee chair Haim Katz, and former foreign and finance minister Yisrael Katz, all powerful figures in their own right, were denied top ten status by Likud’s 80,000 primary voters.

There were exceptions, however. MKs Yoav Gallant, a former general, former communications and cyber minister David Amsalem, former Yerushalayim mayor Nir Barkat, and former Shin Bet security service director Avi Dichter made it to the top 10, even though none of them is close to Netanyahu. Katz, in particular, is a longtime rival.

With Likud polling at 34-35 Knesset seats, those further down the list will likely be left out of the next Knesset. They included Tzachi Hanegbi (46), Keren Barak (49) and Orli Levy-Abekassis, who formed her own party Gesher, then merged with Labor and finally landed in Likud.

Hanegbi’s fall from No. 8 to 46 could signal the end of a long career in politics, after serving with Likud since 1988, except for 4 years with Kadima.

Former communications minister Ayoub Kara told 103 FM Radio that his low placement  was a disappointment not only for him personally but for the Druze voters he represents.

“We must correct the situation whereby the minority representative is only placed at 44th on the Likud list,” Kara says.

After congratulating his party for choosing an “excellent team,” Netanyahu offered a possible consolation for some of the losers:

“I also want to thank those who did not enter [the Knesset], although you have to remember — there is always the Norwegian law,” a reference to the mechanism allowing ministers to vacate their seat in the Knesset for the next person in line on their party’s list.

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!