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Netanyahu Addresses Central C´tee, Vote Called into Question

The Likud Central Committee focused on unity, image and cleaning out corruption on Monday evening in Tel Aviv at its first meeting since Binyamin Netanyahu was elected party leader.
By Hana Levi Julian and Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 12/27/2005, 11:17 AM / Last Update: 12/26/2005, 10:22 PM

The theme of the gathering, reflected in a huge banner, was the party’s new “path of renewal.”

In his address to the Committee, the Likud Chairman called for the approval of Silvan Shalom as number two candidate on the Likud’s Knesset list, as an expression of unity. “We must close ranks,” he said. “There are no camps and no factions. We are one camp.”

Shalom echoed Netanyahu’s words with his own call to “back the elected head and march to victory. There are no more camps,” he reiterated.

Netanyahu’s next proposal underscored the party’s need to clean up its image. “Criminal elements have entered our movement,” he charged. “Their place is not among us. They can go elsewhere, to another party.”

In a move that recalled better times while presenting a new face to the Israeli public, Netanyahu said he will make a formal motion to disallow any candidate who has been convicted of a crime. “We want a clean movement,” he emphasized, “like we learned from Menachem Begin.”

Netanyahu's move is known to target Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction leader Moshe Feiglin, who served time in prison for organizing non-violent civil disobedience to protest the undemocratic nature of the Oslo Accords and the arming of the Palestinian Authority. Menachem Begin himself was wanted by British authorities prior to Israel's founding for taking part in the bombing of the King David Hotel, which served a a base of British operations.

A vote on Netanyahu's ammendment will take place when the Central Committee meets again this Sunday.

Netanyahu also took a stab at Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Kadima Party. "The real election is between our policies and policies. . .that encourage terror," he said.

Trying to gerner support from the south and voters wearing the IDF uniform, Netanyahu promised to give “spacious apartments” to discharged soldiers, to be located in southern Israel.

Netanyahu also reviewed his past performance as Finance Minister, insisting that his “proper economic policies” had lowered unemployment, added 200,000 new workers to the economy and added “billions of shekels” to the nation’s coffers. He promised to “help the weak more," promising: “That’s the first thing I’ll be doing as prime minister.”

The Committee approved the propsal to reserve the second spot on the Likud list for Shalom, along with a clause postponing the party's primaries to January 12th, a week later than originally planned.

Attorney Shai Galili, who is running for a slot on the Likud's Knesset list, has filed a petition calling for the decision to be cancelled as he claims it was illegal and constituted vote-stealing.

Galili told Arutz-7 that two resolutions were bunched together in order to insure that the primaries would be pushed off. Party members that supported one proposal but not the other were effectively disenfranchised Galili said.

The attorney, who has represented anti-expulsion activists such as high-profile IDF refuser Cpl. Avi Bieber, quoted the Likud's charter in his petition to the party's high court. "The binding of proposals that have no connection to one another to be voted upon as one is improper and nullified," reads the charter.

"There is absolutely no connection between reserving the number two slot for Silvan Shalom and the pushing off of the Likud primaries," Galili said. He added that he has invested much time and money toward a campaign leading up to the current date. Galili asked that the court freeze the process of postponing the primaries until it has issued a verdict.