A Likud party convention taking place on Wednesday evening will vote on a proposal to dissolve the union of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and Yisrael Beiteinu, the party headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The convention will also vote on whether to participate in one electoral list, which is called Likud Beiteinu.
The newspaper Haaretz, which reported the news on its website, said that the proposal aims to end the union between the two parties and prevent fighting the next election with a joint list. Hence, it will limit the partnership between the two parties to lasting only until the next election.
Following the proposal’s recognition by the presidency of the conference, Deputy Minister Danny Danon, who is leading the conference, noted that “The Likud party is a democratic party. We will maintain its values and strengthen and restore its spirit,” in a clear reference to his support for the independence of the Likud and ending the partnership with Yisrael Beiteinu.
Another Knesset member reportedly said: “I’ve seen how the coalition has affected seats in the Knesset for the Likud. Lieberman has become the most influential person in the government instead of senior Likud figures.”
Netanyahu and Lieberman have said in recent weeks that they are concerned with the Likud Beiteinu union. Lieberman postponed, at the request of Netanyahu, taking a final decision on a union with the Likud at the Yisrael Beiteinu convention last month.
However, Haaretz reported that there are some supporters of the union within the Likud, and they are trying to change procedural rules. They are hoping that associates of Yisrael Beiteinu can control the Likud from the inside by organising a popular campaign of affiliation and shortening the period of integrating into the institutions of the Likud to a few months. Although some predict that these proposals will successfully pass, others do not think it is likely that members of the Likud congress will be in favour of strengthening the power of members of Yisrael Beiteinu at their expense.
While today’s vote reflects the strong criticism among the leadership of the Likud against the union with Yisrael Beiteinu, opinions are divided about the possibility of passing a proposal to end the partnership with Lieberman’s party. Some have cited the example of Sharon’s decision to withdraw from Gaza without the approval of Likud. Another member of the Knesset suggested that Knesset members cannot possibly vote against the binding decision of the Likud Central Committee.
Despite Netanyahu’s announcement that he will participate in the deliberations of the conference and take the necessary security measures to attend it, many believe that he will not attend, in light of the last minute cancellation of Netanyahu’s attendance of the conference held last July, even though he was meant to be the main speaker. They stressed that the presence of Netanyahu would mean that he managed to do the impossible: to secure a majority around his initiative.
On the other hand, a source close to Netanyahu said that he does not like to be preoccupied with party politics, and since he does not control the Likud, it does not concern him. Thus he is not spending his time attempting to persuade party activists. If that does occur, it might occur in conjunction with the vote, i.e. at 90 minutes, according to Haaretz.