Right-wing alliance in Israel may backfire

Right-wing alliance in Israel may backfire

JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Right-wing alliance in Israel may backfire

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu (R) and his Foreign Minister Lieberman plan to form a new right-wing bloc. REUTERS photo

An alliance between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and Avigdor Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu has angered many within the premier’s party, commentators said yesterday.

Late last week, Netanyahu and his foreign minister said their two parties would run on a joint list in the January general elections in a move likely to see them lead the next coalition government.
Netanyahu’s rightwing party, which holds 27 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, will today evening in Tel Aviv at the Likud Convention vote on the merger with Yisrael Beitenu, which holds 15 seats.
But the move has sparked widespread dissent within Likud with many fearing it would hurt the party, newspapers reported yesterday. “Half the Likud ministers either opposed to the merger with Yisrael Beitenu or have doubts about the agreement,” said the top-selling Yediot Aharonot, noting the announcement had sparked “fierce opposition” within the party.

Netanyahu’s ‘gamble’

Figures from a survey of Likud voters released at the weekend by Israel’s Channel 10 television showed 26 percent were against the move, while 58 percent were in favor. And 22 percent said they did not intend to vote for the united list in January. It also showed similar sentiments among Yisrael Beitenu voters, with 35 percent saying they were against the deal, while 51 percent supported it. “The house is burning,” a senior Likud figure told Haaretz. Another unnamed minister who spoke to Maariv newspaper was clearly bitter over the deal. “He gambled on our future just in order to ensure himself a third term in power,” he said.

With the party’s 3,700 members expected to turn out for the Likud Convention, Public Services Minister Michael Eitan was reportedly collecting signatures from the central committee members in order to force a secret ballot on the issue. “The merger is a mistake because it repels voters. Some of Lieberman’s voters don’t like Netanyahu, and some Likud voters don’t like Lieberman,” he told Israel HaYom, which is close to the Israeli leader.