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      Despite PM's Efforts, Secret Ballot on Joint List Approved

      A Likud panel ruled that members of the Likud Central Committee have a right to a secret ballot on the proposed joint Knesset list
      By David Lev
      First Publish: 10/29/2012, 6:49 PM

      Netanyahu and Lieberman
      Netanyahu and Lieberman
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      The Likud's internal judicial panel on Monday afternoon ruled that members of the Likud Central Committee have a right to vote on the proposed joint election list for the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu in a secret ballot. The idea of the secret ballot was pushed on Sunday by Minister Michael Eitan, along with what he said were other ministers, MKs, and Central Committee members who opposed the joint list. The judicial panel ruled that the secret ballot be taken by midnight Monday, as the Committee meets to discuss the union.

      The Committee meeting begins at 6PM Monday, at which time the full details of the agreement Netanyahu came to with Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Lieberman will be revealed. Netanyahu had reportedly sought to prevent the secret ballot from being taken, demanding that MKs and Central Committee members identify themselves when they vote, but Eitan gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition demanding the secret vote – sufficient to meet the requirements of the Likud by-laws that provides for the secret ballot.

      Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, Eitan said that the ruling by the Likud judicial panel was a “death sentence” for the proposed union, because now many Committee members will feel more free to vote against the deal, which, he claims, a majority of MKs and Committee members oppose.

      The deal has advantages and disadvantages for both parties, political analysts said. But one group that could lose out are the Likud activists who align themselves with a particular MK, in the hope or expectation that they will be “rewarded” for their efforts in getting their man or woman into the Knesset.

      Speaking Sunday, Likud activists said that they were not necessarily convinced that the joint list was a good idea. “It's all going to depend on the polls we see Monday,” one activist said. “If the polls show that the Likud can get 32 or 34 seats on its own, we are likely to reject the joint list,” because there will be more room on a Likud list for all the prospective MKs who sek to run. Even though the deal with Yisrael Beytenu was very generous to the Likud -which puts two Likud members on the list doe each Yisrael Beytenu member – the joint list means that some prospective MKs will not be placed in a “realistic “ spot on the lisr that will guarantee them a spot in the Knesset, the activist said. In any event, he said, the idea of a secret ballot to approve or disapprove the union was a good idea, and would probably be adopted at the meeting.