David Bitan
David Bitan Noam Moskowitz, Knesset spokesperson

Less than a week before the primaries in the Likud, MK David Bitan is not afraid of being pushed to the bottom of the party’s Knesset slate.

"I feel good, I've been in contact with the activists for eight years, I am doing work in the Knesset, I've been in almost every position within the movement and I've done a good job. I believe people appreciate that," Bitan told the Israel Hayom newspaper.

When asked who he will support after Benjamin Netanyahu steps away, Bitan replied, "Yisrael Katz. He has fulfilled many roles very well, and he has also been my friend for 40 years. We worked together back when I started activities in Likud."

Bitan was asked what he thought of Nir Barkat and his claim that there are activists working behind the scene to hurt his chances of being ranked high in the primaries. "I don't support him. I’ve learned one thing, everyone cries. There are many people whose job it is to cry to get votes. This is a method that many people use in order to succeed. No one is working against him. Barkat should stop whining like a little child. Run in the proper manner and you will get results. To constantly say that ‘people are getting back at me’ - this is not the way."

If Netanyahu doesn't achieve a majority of 61 MKs to form a government, would this not be the time to take stock of whether he can continue to lead? To this question Bitan replied, "We are a democratic party. Netanyahu was elected, and he manages to bring an excellent result to the Likud. It is not easy to bring 35-36 seats, and he is slowly aiming for 61. Do you think it is easy? Today we are without Liberman and without Kahlon, and we have come close to 61 in the polls. We will reach the goal with Netanyahu, who has great support on the right. Why change a winning horse?"

"In order for Gantz to form a government with the haredim – he also needs the Likud. The haredim will not go with Lapid, Meretz and Labor, and we will not come to a government led by Gantz. Netanyahu will not be second in a rotation. The option of a government with Gantz is off the table. In the last year, when he was Defense Minister, Gantz proved that he is a distinct leftist. In my opinion, Gafni is saying [that his party will go with Gantz] because of internal considerations within United Torah Judaism."

Bitan explained that the Likud will be able to form a government even with only 60 seats, "because the other bloc needs the Joint List".

"It's not like it is now, when they had enough with Bennett and Sa'ar with Ra'am. The Netanyahu bloc no longer has 52 seats but rather 58-59. So they don't have a government," he added.

Ayelet Shaked's party should be ignored, claimed Bitan. "The more you attack them - the more you strengthen them. We need 61, and if they pass, and they make up the 61st seat, I expect them to be with us so that we form a government. I think that if they make up the 61, they will enter the government with us."

To the question of whether Shaked has a future in Likud, Bitan replied, "At the moment, no. The members of the Likud are very angry with her because of the last year. In 2019, when I wanted to bring her in, she was very popular, and she would also have been elected in a high position. Now, after she entered a left-wing government and didn’t leave it when it was expected of her, and she is still sitting with them - there is great anger towards her in the Likud."