Dan Meridor, a former top minister in Likud governments, has chosen not to run for the Knesset, and will thus not participate in the Likud primaries at the end of December.
His reason: “I will not be the detergent for the Likud's current right-wing policies,” he told the Knesset Channel in an interview Thursday.
Meridor, 67, is considered one of the “royal” members of Likud because of his long-standing membership dating back to the formation of the party, in the 1970s consolidation of Mahal and the Israel Liberal Party. He has also served in numerous posts, most notably Justice Minister and Finance Minister.
He resigned that latter post in 1997, saying that he had “lost faith in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu” during the latter's first term.
Meridor later bolted from Likud and joined Ariel Sharon's government as a minister without portfolio for the now-defunct Kadima, and then retired - only to return in 2009, when he ran again with Likud, with Netanyahu as party leader.
Known for his dovish views on negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, many Likud members have long been of the opinion that Meridor's place was more with Labor or other more left-leaning parties.
In the interview, Meridor said that the current direction of the Likud contradicted his beliefs. “For example, I hear members saying that we will 'grant' Arabs human rights but not political rights, meaning that they will seek to prevent them from voting. I hear people calling them a 'cancer,' and similar comments that cannot be repeated. I am unwilling to be the 'cleansing agent' for people like this."
"This is not my Likud, and I cannot be a part of it until and unless it returns to its historic national-liberal ways, and not the nationalistic path it has now chosen,” he added.