Netanyahu Admits He Lost Control of Likud
Sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu say in closed conversations he has admitted to ignoring his Likud party over the last two years, a move that has caused him to lose control over the party.
"I'm going to conquer the Likud anew with full force," promised Netanyahu, according to the sources quoted in Maariv. "I'll reconnect to the activists, I'll invite them to me and devote the proper time."
Netanyahu noted "I'm not prepared to give up on my party, and I'll do whatever I need to fix the mistakes."
The reported conversations come after tensions were raised in January, when Netanyahu proposed that Judea and Samaria Jews live under the Palestinian Authority (PA). MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) responded by warning that an overwhelming majority of the Likud "oppose all plans of a loss of Israeli sovereignty, and from there we will start a systematic political organization."
Netanyahu's office at the time responded to the opposition by saying Likud MKs critical of Netanyahu's plans "can leave (their posts) any time they want."
Speaking to Kol Yisrael radio, Netanyahu stated on Saturday that he will reject any peace agreement not meeting Israel's needs and threatening the state's security.
"In recent years the state of Israel has been under various pressures. We have rejected them in the face of the unprecedented storm and unrest in the region and are maintaining stability and security. This is what has been and what will be," pledged Netanyahu.
When asked about the possibility of a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria if the talks were to break down, Netanyahu said it was preferable not to reach such a situation, noting similar withdrawals in the past have not justified themselves by providing stability and security.
Fears of a second Kadima?
However, it is worth noting that in February it was reported that Netanyahu was ready to give up over 90% of Judea and Samaria.
Following the January crisis over Netanyahu's proposal of Jews living under PA control, a scenario poll found that if Netanyahu were to break away from the Likud and form his own party he would be able to create the largest party, but only by one mandate.
Such a move would follow the footsteps of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who broke from Likud to form Kadima and push through the 2005 "Disengagement" plan, expelling all Jews from Gaza.
The poll also found that 51% said Netanyahu should accept the Likud's decision if it opposed a peace deal, while only 25% responded that he should create a new party.