Orly Levy Abekasis
Orly Levy Abekasisצילום: Flash 90

Likud officials are outraged over plans by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to recruit a number of non-party members into the Likud’s Knesset slate for the upcoming election, guaranteeing them seats in the 24th Knesset, according to a report by Israel Hayom.

According to the report Tuesday morning, Netanyahu held talks with Finance Minister Yisrael Katz and Likud central committee chairman Haim Katz Monday, during which the three agreed to cancel the party primaries ahead of the March elections.

The Likud will be asked to approve the decision Wednesday, and is widely expected to green light the request.

The party’s constitutional committee, headed by Haim Katz, will be the first to meet Wednesday. Once it okays the decision not to hold internal elections, the matter will go to the party secretariat for approval.

As part of their plans to cancel the primary vote ahead of the 24th Knesset election, the three Likud leaders also discussed the possibility of using vacancies left in the party list by the departure of Gideon Sa’ar and his supporters to the New Hope party to guarantee spots on the Knesset slate to a number of non-party members and Knesset newcomers.

Four other Likud lawmakers besides Sa’ar have announced plans to join the New Hope, including Ze’ev Elkin, Michal Shir, Sharren Haskel, and Yifat Shasha-Biton.

Netanyahu reportedly plans to expand the number of guaranteed spots to the Knesset list he will be able to fill.

The figures highlighted for the vacancies include the Minister for Community Empowerment and Advancement Orly Levy. Levy, the sole member of the Gesher faction, split off from Yisrael Beytenu in 2016 in protest of its decision to join the Netanyahu-led government.

In the 2020 election, Gesher ran on a joint list with Meretz and Labor, receiving one seat out of seven total won by the list.

Several Likud officials expressed outrage at the possibility of granting Levy a guaranteed spot on the party list, with one member saying “A minute ago she was with Meretz, what does she have to do with us?”

Others considered for the vacancies include Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, Modi’in Mayor Haim Bibas, and Brig. Gen. (Res.) Gal Hirsch, a counter-terrorism expert who ran for the Knesset at the helm of the Magen party in the first election of 2019, receiving just 3,439 votes. Hirsch later joined the Likud party, receiving the 100th spot on the list.