Likud members tried to sideline Bibi to prevent left-wing govt

Finance Minister Katz admits suggesting Netanyahu temporarily step aside to allow another to form a Likud-led right wing coalition. Netanyahu refused.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Finance Minister Israel Katz revealed Sunday that he proposed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he step aside and let him head the Likud for a year in order to form a right-wing government.

Katz said he made the suggestion in a bid to overcome squabbling between Netanyahu’s Likud and two of Israel’s smaller right-wing parties – Yemina and New Hope – who might have been coerced into joining the Likud if Netanyahu temporarily was not at the helm.

His proposal involved the Likud holding a new internal party primary election without Netanyahu. The winner would serve as party leader and prime minister for one year, after which Netanyahu would automatically resume leadership of the party and country.

Katz apparently thought this would allow right-wing parties that oppose Netanyahu personally, including Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope, to join the government. Katz believed he would win the primaries and temporarily become prime minister.

“The proposal was, of course, conditional on the prime minister’s consent,” Katz stressed, but Netanyahu shot the idea down.

“The prime minister did not accept the proposal and in doing so it was removed from the agenda,” Katz said.

Katz said he believed he had a chance of being chosen to head the party in place of Netanyahu due to his long term in the Likud movement and years of experience in cabinet, and as an interim leader the country could either avoid a left-wing government or a return to elections in the fall.

“I believed that my chances of being elected were high due to my roots in the movement and my extensive experience and the senior positions I have successfully held as Minister of Agriculture, Transportation, Intelligence, Foreign Minister and now Minister of Finance,” Katz explained.

Katz pointed an accusing finger at his party colleague Nir Barkat, a former Jerusalem mayor who has said he aspires to lead the party one day.

“I am convinced that Knesset Member Barkat’s attacks, openly and through anonymous text messages sent against me, will be rejected with contempt by Likud members, and I turn to him once again to cancel the subversive conference he organized against the prime minister,” Katz said, referring to a conference Barkat announced in order to detail his future political plans.

“During this period, we must all stand together in the struggle for the principles of the Likud and the leadership of the State of Israel,” Katz said.

For his part, Barkat rejected the accusation.

The high-tech business tycoon said his conference was to present “a vision and work plans based on an entrepreneurial and high-tech approach” that he had worked on with “the best experts in Israel and around the world, including Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

“I am sure that Yisrael Katz will also support the plans when he arrives at the event. Especially these days we need to maintain a united Likud,” tweeted Barkat.