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Likud doesn't need Netanyahu to survive

Friday 08/February/2019 - 09:27 AM
Sada El Balad



Ynetnews - By Shlomo Pyuterkovsky


The results of the Likud Party primaries bring important tidings to the political right in Israel، which is led by the Likud Party، which is led by Benjamin Netanyahu. It turns out once again، this time very clearly، that Likud، unlike the prominent left-wing parties، is a party that represents a political ideal and not an individual. While without Yair Lapid there is no Yesh Atid، and without Benny Gantz there is no Israel Resilience، Likud will remain alive and kicking and in power long after the days of Benjamin Netanyahu have passed.

The results of the primaries give expression to the Likud's years-long delicate balance between the respect given to the chairman، giving him the authority and the room to lead، and ensuring that the chairman is not the be-all and end-all of the party.

There will likely be much talk in the coming days about Gideon Sa'ar's achievement in these primaries. But there's a lot less attention given to the fact the prime minister easily had granted his request for three reserved spots on the Likud list، instead of the original one he wanted، (even though at least two of the three are unrealistic spots). There are quite a few Likud members who stood to lose out because of this request، including prominent and influential activists، and yet it was still overwhelmingly approved، because the party chairman needs the tools to win.

The Likud Party، as you know، doesn't make a habit of ousting sitting chairmen. In fact، Likud has never ousted a sitting chairman. All of the chairmen who saw out their terms chose to do so، including Netanyahu in 1999، when he lost an election. On the other hand، Likud members don't genuflect before the chairman or accept all of his positions and recommendations.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein's top spot، and doubly so the fourth place won by Gideon Sa'ar، show that Likud members value loyalty to the path، not to the leader. If Sa'ar is a leader who knows how to promote Likud's path and spirit، he will rise up the list—even if the prime minister fights him with all of his might.

The party's ability، as an organization، to have its own agenda in the primaries، separate to that of the chairman، is critical in light of the challenges Likud may have to contend with soon.

Many on the right، and certainly in Likud، believe Netanyahu is innocent of the corruption allegations levelled against him، and the truth is there are several very good reasons to think so. Despite this، the chances Netanyahu would have to vacate the Prime Minister's Office due to legal reasons is becoming، with time، more and more concrete. It may not happen immediately after the elections، but it certainly could happen in his next term. In such an event، the party must have the ability to quickly choose a new leadership and embark on a new path، and not be dragged down with the leader.

The primaries have proven that with all of the difficulties that entails، Likud is certainly capable of that، and will be able to continue to lead Israel's right-wing even in the post-Netanyahu era.

Edited by Rabea Yehia

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