The results of the Likud primaries, which ended on Monday after two days of voting due to glitches in the computerized voting system, indicated that the party's list for the next Knesset includes MKs considered as belonging to right-wing factions of the party.
The big drama of the primaries was considered to be ministers Dan Meridor, Ze'ev Binyamin (Benny) Begin, Avi Dichter and Michael Eitan failing to garner enough votes to win spots on the list that would guarantee them seats in the next Knesset.
MKs Danny Danon, Yariv Levin, Tzipi Hotovely all made it to the top 10 spots on the list. Moshe Feiglin, who heads the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction in the Likud and is considered an extreme right-wing member of the party, captured the 14th spot on the list and will enter the Knesset for the first time in his political career.
The party's first 20 candidates for the Knesset are Gideon Sa'ar, Gilad Erdan, Silvan Shalom, Yisrael Katz, Danny Danon, Reuven Rivlin, Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon, Zeev Elkin, Yariv Levin, Tzipi Hotovely, Yuli Edelstein, Haim Katz, Miri Regev, Moshe Feiglin, Yuval Steinitz, Tzachi Hanegbi, Limot Livnat, Ofir Akunis, Gila Gamliel and Carmel Shama Hacohen.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at the Trade Fair and Convention Center in Tel Aviv around 1 p.m. and told the audience: "Those elected to Knesset seats are the national team."
He thanked those who did not make the threshold and said he wanted Meridor and Begin to stay close to him despite their failure to obtain seats in the next Knesset. Netanyahu vowed to remain loyal to the "values of Jabotinsky."
Keti Sheetrit won the 24th spot, which was reserved for a woman, and economist Shlomo Maoz, whom Netanyahu promoted, did not make it onto the list. In the spots reserved for regional leaders, David Biton won the seat for the Shfela region (no. 22), Uri Faraj won the seat for the Dan region (no. 23) and Ayoob Kara won the seat for non-Jews (no. 25).
Contrary to the impression that the only factor determining the party ticket was back-room deals, the list that was chosen indicates that the strongest deals had only partial influence over its final composition. The largest deal, made by Haim Katz, could not help him break into the list's top 10, and neither could Feiglin. Katz's attempt to politically "eliminate" Carmel Shama Hacohen also was not successful, as he was ultimately voted onto the party ticket.
Conversely, ministers and MKs who enjoy widespread public support, such as Sa'ar, Erdan and Yisrael Katz, managed to secure top positions. Danny Danon's success in reaching the top five and surpassing some senior ministers along the way, considered a surprise, is also part of a trend that became apparent in recent weeks. Danon's accomplishment comes mainly because the faction's more right-wing elements, which are split into three rival groups, all supported Danon. Even Yariv Levin won support that crossed similar in-party boundaries.
In some instances, however, the big deals did make a difference. The pushing of Meridor, Eitan and Begin off the party ticket was mostly the result of their being not included in any of the major deals – neither Katz's nor those put together by the right-wing branch of the party.
In response to the election results, Eitan said: "Eight consecutive times I accepted the primary election results, when I was chosen to represent the Likud. This time the Likud members decided differently, and I accept their decision."
Sources close to Netanyahu reiterated Monday that a candidate's placement on the list would not influence the next government's ministerial list. Shama Hacohen, who barely made the party's national ticket despite the attempts to oust him, said on Monday, "I am the only one who defeated the 'Katzism.' Apparently brown-nosing to belligerence is less effective than telling the truth. It beats even the aggressive deal that determined almost the entire Likud ticket. This is the happiest day of my life."
Netanyahu also sustained a resounding defeat when his recommended candidates were left off the list, including Shlomo Maoz, Avi Dichter, and Yulia Shamalov Berkovitch. Some of his more strident loyalists in the Likud, Ofir Akunis and Yuval Steinitz, did not make the top 10.
As opposed to the previous elections, however, this time Netanyahu barely tended to the primaries, namely because of the fighting in the south that occurred at a crucial time for the candidates.
Sa'ar, who won first place on the list, said, "Those who think the list is hawkish and most of the public is with the Left are not being realistic."
Erdan, who won the second spot, said he was proud of the Likud's list.
"When you compare our list with that of any other party, you will see that we have more public servants with proven experience," he said.
Asked about Feiglin's winning the 14th spot , Erdan said, "[Former Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert is much more dangerous than a man like Feiglin."
MK Danny Danon, who came in fifth and is the only MK who is not a minister among those who topped the list, said, "I have been loyal to the party's values for the past four years, and Likud members want a strong party."
MK Tzipi Hotovely, who won the 10th place on the list and is the only woman in the top 10, said, "It is a great honor that the members allowed me to be the party's female representative. Winning the vote involves soliciting support, hard work and sweat. It is also not accomplished on one's own."
Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon, who came in at No. 7 on the list and is viewed as a possible candidate for the position of defense minister, expressed dismay that some of his friends did not make it onto the list.
"I am sorry that Benny Begin and Dan Meridor did not make it, but this is a natural process. This is what the voters wanted and in my opinion it reflects a change the Israeli public is undergoing as well," he said.
Although Netanyahu is predicted to win re-election in January, being surrounded by more hardline lawmakers than previously could toughen his policies on such issues as Iran's nuclear program which Israel has vowed to stop, and diplomacy with the Palestinians, which has been frozen since 2010.
Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz said in a statement that Likud, the party to which he also once belonged, "has now lost its way and been swayed to the extreme margins of the political map."
Meanwhile, Yisrael Beytenu's central committee is set to complete its interviews of candidates for the next Knesset. So far, the committee has interviewed more than 200 candidates and its five members are scheduled to present their recommendations on the day members vote for the party list, currently scheduled for Dec. 4.
Party secretary MK Faina Kirshenbaum said on Monday that rumors about places on the list being reserved for members of Likud who failed to make it on the Likud's list are fabrications.
"It's like the rumors that had Barak joining our party a day before he announced he would not run in the upcoming elections," she said.
Members of Yisrael Beytenu gathered at Maccabiah Village in Ramat Gan on Sunday for the marathon of interviews with candidates who made it to the final stage of the selection process, which was initiated because the party will be running jointly with the Likud.
It is believed that Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman will have the final say on the composition of his party's list, and the candidates will most likely include those who are acceptable to both Lieberman and Netanyahu. According to the agreement between the parties, both leaders will try to formulate a united list acceptable to both.