Netanyahu loyalists cry foul over being ‘abandoned’

Critics charge that the party leader preferred promoting new names over those who defended him during the outgoing Knesset term.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

A number of  Likud MKs have petitioned the party’s legal body over whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the party chairman, should have the right to add three candidates of his own choosing to the Likud list running in the upcoming Knesset election, scheduled for April 9th.

Last Tuesday, the Likud held a party primary, and while Netanyahu said that he was “very, very” satisfied with the list produced by party voters, some of the candidates have expressed dismay over their own showing.

The arguments challenging the prime minister’s political actions include charges that he promoted new names running in the party, including Immigrant Absorption Minister Yoav Galant, who just joined the Likud after leaving a different party, and former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. On the other hand, critics argue, he did not help the cause of many who have been at his side.

Galant and Barkat fared well in last week’s primary but others, including incumbent Likud MKs who say they have been loyal to Netanyahu through difficult times of criminal investigations against the prime minister, say they feel abandoned by the party leader.

In addition, the Likud lawmakers who have gone to the party court to challenge Netanyahu’s authority to add personal choices to the primary list say that according to the party rules, only its Central Committee can grant Netanyahu the right to do that.

One of the most outspoken MKs is Miki Zohar, who has been a strong Netanyahu supporter but finished far down the list in the party ballot.

“Loyalty to Netanyahu does not pay,” he told Ynet. “Throughout the [Knesset] term, we have paid a price in defending him, and now we’ve been abandoned by Netanyahu.”

The prime minister wishes to reserve spots for additional candidates, including another woman on the list, but such personal choices move the disenchanted MKs down the list even further, decreasing their chances of entering the next Knesset.

Opinion polls have shown the Likud winning about 30 places in the 120-seat parliament. In the immediate aftermath of the party primary, one poll showed the Likud winning 32 seats.