Netanyahu vs. Levin – Could Likud rift lead to resignations?

“We need to maintain cohesion and unity, that’s our strength,” says Likud MK Danny Danon. “None of us want the return of a left-wing government.”

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

As a deadline regarding a crucial aspect of judicial reform grows nearer and it’s unclear whether a compromise on the matter between coalition and opposition parties will be reached, rifts over next steps are emerging within the Likud party.

After passing the state budget at the end of May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that reforms to Israel’s judicial system were next on the agenda.

Since the current ruling coalition took office in December 2022, only one law regarding the reform has been passed – a bill that prevents the Attorney General from demanding that Netanyahu step down due to conflict of interest.

Hebrew-language media outlets have reported that Netanyahu is interested in reaching a compromise regarding potential changes to Israel’s legal system and is not opposed to softening the language of many of the bills proposed for the overhaul.

However, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, along with other strong supporters of the reforms including Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar, have reportedly threatened to resign from the coalition should the reforms be frozen or passed in a weakened form.

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“I suggest that everyone avoid making threats. I hear all kinds of ultimatums and threats: ‘We will bring down the coalition we will resign’. We are all in the same boat. It makes sense to keep the coalition together,” MK Danny Danon told Mako News.

“Not everyone is happy all the time, but when Ministers Levin and Zohar say constantly, ‘We will resign if one or two things don’t happen,’ it doesn’t help. We need to maintain cohesion and unity, that’s our strength. None of us wants the return of a left-wing government.”

Beyond ideological issues, Netanyahu is also contending with power struggles within the party regarding appointments to committees.

According to a report, Levin is unhappy with Netanyahu’s choice for the head of a municipal committee within Likud. The report indicated that Levin has been pressuring the premier to install his choice of candidate instead.

“Netanyahu has never been in such a situation before,” a source in the Likud party, speaking anonymously, told Hebrew-language outlet Ma’ariv.

“If he gives in to the pressure, it will project serious weakness and harm his position in Likud and within the coalition.”