The Likud Central Committee, which will convene on Wednesday, may veto a future union with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu.
Maariv reported on Tuesday evening that the Chairman of the Central Committee, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, will bring the motion to a vote on Wednesday.
According to the report, the proposal is a declarative one, stating that things should not be changed beyond the current situation, where the two parties ran on a joint list in the elections but are functioning as separate factions in the Knesset. The motion seeks to send Liberman a message that the Likud will not accept a permanent union with his party in the future.
While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has not openly objected to Danon’s proposal, said Maariv, he is concerned that passing such a motion at the present time would cause tension with Liberman’s party.
Officials close to Netanyahu said that toughening the attitude against Yisrael Beytenu may cause Liberman to separate the two factions completely and even leave the coalition, leaving Netanyahu with a weakened Likud which only has 20 seats, only one more than Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid.
Nevertheless, many Central Committee members are expected to support Danon’s proposal, since the union with Yisrael Beytenu has already blocked certain Likud representatives from entering the Knesset. Many members of the Likud, mostly representatives of periphery areas, were left out of the Knesset in the last elections because of the union with Liberman’s party.
Last month, the Yisrael Beytenu conference decided to postpone a final decision on a union with the Likud, following a request from Netanyahu who cited the current complex political reality.
Likud and Yisrael Beytenu forged an alliance prior to the last national election. While internal surveys conducted by Likud showed that the merger would increase the number of mandates shared by the parties, analysts warned that the move could become the biggest political mistake in the elections.
Ultimately, the joint list won only 31 seats in the elections, far below the number it expected to achieve. The joint list was the Knesset’s largest faction, but the number of seats shared between the two factions was down from 42 seats in the last Knesset.