Likud members expressed concerns on Thursday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may split the Likud party and perhaps even join Kadima.
The concerns were raised after Netanyahu decided to postpone a Knesset vote on a bill for legalizing Jewish outposts and disputed neighborhoods. The vote on the bill had been scheduled for Wednesday but Netanyahu, who objects to the bill, refused to allow ministers to vote freely on the issue, a fact which would have caused the bill not to pass.
One of the disputed neighborhoods is the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El, which the Supreme Court recently ruled must be demolished by July 1. Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz, now a minister in Netanyahu's government, has already said that he opposes a law that would ensure that the residents the Ulpana neighborhood could remain in their homes.
Likud Minister Dan Meridor has also said that the neighborhood must be torn down and that legalization is not an option.
Moshe Feiglin, the Chairman of the Manhigut Yehudit faction of the Likud, told Arutz Sheva that while there are only rumors of a potential split in the Likud at this point, they are substantiated. Such a split would be similar to the move by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who broke away from the Likud in the face of intense internal opposition and formed Kadima, in order to push through the unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005.
“There has been talk in the Likud of the possibility of such a split,” said Feiglin. “This is a general feeling that transcends sectors and camps within the Likud. Netanyahu could take Likud to a similar place as Sharon did.”
He added, “I hope I'm wrong and that these fears are false, but we need to also prepare for this possibility. We must not be caught surprised.”
Sharon’s split from the Likud caused it to collapse and achieve only 12 seats in the 2006 elections. Under Netanyahu’s leadership the party recovered and rose to 27 seats in 2009.
Feiglin encouraged all Likud supporters to request clarifications from Likud ministers regarding a potential split.
“We must ask at every meeting with Likud members of Knesset to publicly commit that they will remain in the Likud,” he said. “It is important that the leaders know that the party is what gave them their jobs, this understanding is important. Unfortunately Sharon became a bit dizzy, and I hope this never happens to Netanyahu.
Feiglin noted that Netanyahu “has many rights, is a talented man and I'm not saying he is planning such a move right now, but we should nevertheless be prepared. We’ve seen such a scenario happen before."