Thursday April 24, 2014
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24.04.2014
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Likud takes a right turn
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Mati Tuchfeld

Right side up

The Likud Knesset list, which was finalized on Monday, shifted the party rightward. It also proved that the power generally attributed to pre-primary deals and hit lists was exaggerated. That rightists like Danny Danon and Yariv Levin, as well as Zeev Elkin and Tzipi Hotovely, were voted into the party's top 10 is a reflection, more than anything else, of the Likud's general direction over the last four years and its slow inching toward the Right. This shift left ministers who are considered key party members, like Michael Eitan and Dan Meridor, out of the next Knesset.

But the reality currently facing Likud isn't necessarily bad news. Contrary to previous primary elections, in which it was important to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to present Likud as a centrist movement in its battle against Kadima, today's political map is completely different. Netanyahu's biggest political threats — the parties that could siphon seats away from his party in the coming general election, especially in light of public disappointment over Netanyahu's failure to launch a ground incursion in Gaza — are mainly on the Right.

Last time, it was important to Netanyahu to preserve the political bloc that would put him in the prime minister's office. This time, that bloc has splintered. The name of the game is winning the most Knesset seats and be the one who assembles the coalition. That is why Netanyahu joined forces with Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman. In this regard, the prominent spots won by Hotovely and Elkin, and even Moshe Feiglin (considered to be the most extreme rightist in the party) could actually serve Likud in the struggle to retain its power.

The political deals, as always, were partially effective. The mega-deal made by Haim Katz (having reportedly instructed Israel Aerospace Industries employees to vote for him and his associates) cannot be described as a total failure, but it also was not a resounding success. Katz himself didn't make it into the top 10; by and large, his picks for spots reserved for regional candidates lost. On the other hand, Katz's deal did improve the position won by many others, like Yisrael Katz, Gideon Sa'ar and Gilad Erdan. Feiglin, too, owes his good position, for the first time in 14 years, to this deal.

Likud has not only chosen a more right-leaning line-up, but also a younger one, with a list of ministers and MKs who managed to stand out in the current administration, in legislation and in the Knesset. As in previous elections, Netanyahu was unable to shape the list into the list of his dreams. He wanted Benny Begin. He wanted Meridor. The only external candidate he supported, Shlomo Maoz, was also voted out.

On the other hand, he has Tzachi Hanegbi to stand in for Begin and Meridor. Netanyahu views Hanegbi as an asset, especially when it comes to sensitive security issues.

For Yisrael Beytenu and Lieberman, the "prince" will be Yair Shamir, the son of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

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