The divide between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon deepened on Sunday night, as Danon was denied an invitation to an important conference.
The Prime Minister's Residence hosted the presidium of the Likud party Sunday night, and Danon - the conference's chairman - was not invited.
"The conference is not about ideology," Netanyahu told those present. "What's being put to the test is the authority of the chairman." Netanyahu stressed that taking away authority from the Likud's leader – himself – would ultimately hurt the Likud.
The position of Conference Chairman has been a source of tension between Danon and Netanyahu, as the former took the Likud party to the Tel Aviv District Court last month to appeal the manner in which the presidiums were conducted. The court found Likud guilty and fined it 40,000 shekels, a victory which prompted Danon to claim he had "proved democracy is the path of the Likud."
Sources close to the Prime Minister responded to Danon’s threat by saying that even if he does not resign, Netanyahu intends to fire him.
Likud has faced several points of internal tension over the past year, as Likud members allegedly had planned a "rebellion" in the party over Netanyahu's willingness to make irresponsible concessions to the Palestinian Authority.
This is also not the first time a minister had drawn the Prime Minister's ire in the past several months.
In January, Netanyahu was reportedly livid after Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett criticized his proposal to have Jews in Judea and Samaria live under the Palestinian Authority (PA). Netanyahu claims to have made the proposal as a tactic to reveal the PA's "true face;" PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected any Jewish presence on Sunday, echoing previous statements by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Bennett issued sharp criticism over the issue, sparking a backlash. After an ultimatum was delivered giving Bennett the choice to apologize or step down, Bennett apologized to Netanyahu for any offense caused. Despite this, Bennett ultimately refused to back down on his essential position, saying it was his obligation to criticize when needed and claiming that his prompt criticism had prevented the abandonment of hundreds of thousands of Israelis.