likud election
Celebrations at the Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 17, 2015. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed concern over the weekend that the Likud’s hold on power could be in jeopardy if the party’s central committee members vote to give themselves the right to choose the entire Likud list for the next Knesset.

Some 3,700 members of the Likud central committee will be eligible to vote at 10 polling stations across the country Sunday on a proposal to change how Israel’s ruling party elects its MKs.

The central committee members will decide whether to keep the current system by which Knesset candidates are chosen by the 100,000 Likud members, give themselves the exclusive power to pick the MKs, or adopt a compromise proposal backed by Netanyahu in which the members would select the party’s top candidates and the central committee would pick candidates further down the list in slots reserved for new candidates from regions.

“The vote is critical,” Netanyahu said in an interview with the Likudnik website. “I want to make sure the Likud will be the ruling party for years to come. The Likud’s 100,000 members brought us a million votes. I don’t want to turn them away now.”

Netanyahu warned that allowing the central committee to select the list would “give a prize to our political opponents,” who he said were looking for such an opportunity to besmirch the Likud.

The central committee has a bad reputation due to past political corruption scandals.

Citing legal rulings since those scandals, Netanyahu said that if the central committee members elect the Likud’s top MKs, ministers would be prohibited by law from speaking to the committee members. According to one ruling, if they help the central committee members, the ministers could be subjected to three years in prison.

“Instead of strengthening the connection between central committee members and ministers, it would weaken the connection,” Netanyahu said.

But MK David Amsalem, who has been the main backer of giving central committee members the right to choose the entire list, sent messages to them warning them not to believe such claims.

“The central committee members will do what is right for themselves in the secret-ballot vote, and we will win,” Amsalem said. “We will be campaigning to tell central committee members: Don’t close your eyes or tie your hands. If you don’t fight for yourselves, no one will fight for you.”

Polling stations will be open until 10 p.m. and results are expected on Monday. The ballots provide four options, with the fourth being none of the above three proposals.

To change the status quo, any of the four options would be required to receive 51 percent of the vote. Splitting the ballot in four makes achieving that much support difficult to get.

Likud Anglos leader Daniel Tauber and key activist Omri Akunis wrote a letter to central committee members on Saturday night warning them not to take the right to choose the list away from the Likud membership as a whole. The letter was signed by prominent Anglo activists in the party such as Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick.

“Canceling the right of Likud members to choose their representatives and to transfer this right to the central committee would be a great mistake,” the letter said.

“Such a change would lead to an immediate reduction in the number of Likud members, the cancellation of tens of thousands of existing memberships, and prevent potential members who care for the direction of the State of Israel and believe in the values of the Likud from joining the movement.

“In addition, the chances that these citizens will vote for the Likud in the general election, when they will not be members of the party and as they will have no real connection with the party, will be reduced significantly,” they wrote.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post