Israel, Politics

A closer look at Likud's top 10

The Likud party had a run-off for their party list for the general election coming up February 10, 2009. Here’s the complete list with details on the top 10. The lot of them are woven around Netanyahu in intimate ways. Whoever the next PM is, s/he will likely be forced to evacuate/disengage from at least a portion of the West Bank in the near future (i.e., 2-3 years), and yet, I would imagine a majority (if not all) of this list opposed the disengagement from Gaza and would oppose the same from any of the West Bank. Considering Bibi’s track-record on “disengaging,” he does it from both sides–he disengages from territory and negotiations, amazing. Many remember that just over ten years ago he promptly withdrew from most of Hebron and played around at Wye to his party’s dismay only to turn his back on nearly everything he agreed to. I do not know how many seats Likud might get–I could see anywhere from 10-25 (to use an extreme range).
Whether Netanyahu becomes the next PM or not, the Likud is stacked with a hardline group, and some big names too, even way down the list. For those hoping for the occupation to continue and for the conflict to intensify, this is your group of polticians. This will be your “we have no partner,” nonsense of Barak and Sharon. It will be VERY interesting to see how Bibi would respond to pressure from Obama, would he cave as he did under Clinton? (then again, everyone melted in Clinton’s hands)
This February will be an interesting time in Israel.
click below for my more info on the potential MKs
1.) Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud Chairman)
Ahhh, Bibi. The man needs little introduction to those familiar with the last 30 years of Israeli politics–Ambassador to the UN ’84-’88, MK ’88-’93, Likud chairman ’93-’96, PM ’96-’99, FM ’02-’03, Finance Min. ’03-’05, Opposition leader ’05-current. wow, try saying that in one breath. While the Netanyahu name has been ‘household’ in Zionist homes worldwide, Bibi made his first real mark on the world (outside of his brother’s letters) in 1997 negotiating the Wye River Accords. Palestinians and Muslims remember him well for working with Ehud Olmert to open the Western Wall tunnel. Shimon Peres might remember him as the man who took any real substance of a political life away. Arik Sharon surely remembers him from when Bibi walked out on him over the disengagement from Gaza.
Netanyahu was brought up in the states,schooled at MIT (two degrees, architecture and management), served at the embassy in D.C. and at some point was thoroughly steeped in American economics and politics. As Finance Minister his policies amounted to a drastic overhaul, quick too, of the Israeli economic system molding it closer to the semi-regulated free-trade model embraced by the US, UK and EU. Israel had a near ‘Clintonesque’ era, financially, with Bibi’s policies, and the results mirrored those of the US. While the middle-class expanded its wealth, quickly, the rate of the very wealthy (top 2% wealthy) increased rapidly, and as happens in capitalist systems as the very wealthy increase their wealth, the moderately poor become very poor, and the very poor, well, you know how it goes. While the GDP may have shot up during his tenure, so did the economic gap, second only to the US. It was pretty well publicized in the media and blogosphere that he may well have hired Karl Rove to run his next campaign–I presume (and hope) that Israelis won’t be as foolish as Americans to settle for less than they (and their neighbors) deserve.
2.) Gideon Sa’ar (head of Likud faction in the Knesset)
Sa’ar got his law degree at Tel Aviv Univ., has been in politics since 1999 and has been an MK since ’03. He did not support the disengagement from Gaza. And get this, he proposed a bill to ban cosmetic testing on animals. Neat.
3.) Gilad Erdan
I totally remember this guy. Erdan has been an MK since ’03, previously served as an aide to Netanyahu. He supports deepening ties with Evangelical Christians and he is the same MK who proposed the bill which would revoke Israeli citizenship based on ‘disloyalty.’ Needless to say, he was against the disengagement.
4.) Reuven Rivlin
Rivlin first served as MK in ’88, after a brief absence he returned in ’96 and has served since. From ’03-’06 he was Speaker of the Knesset. Rivlin voted against the disengagement.
5.) Benny Begin
Ze’ev Binyamin Begin is the son of Menachem Begin, who was PM ’77-’83. Benny Begin was elected to Knesset in ’88, served until ’93 when he lost to Bibi for party chair. He resigned in ’97 from Netanyahu’s gov’t over the redeployment from Hebron. Begin tried to resurrect his father’s Herut party (which I believe, but don’t know for sure, that Rivlin was very active in), and when that failed he left politics and went back to geology (which is his training). He now returns. I think it’s fair to say that were Benny Begin to have served in ’05, he would have voted against the disengagement from Gaza.
6.) Moshe Kahlon
I don’t know much about this guy, he jumped on the scene in ’03, and out of nowhere shot up to near the top of the list in ’06, and now he’s still up there. He… you guessed it, voted against the disengagement.
7.) Silvan Shalom
I only know of Mr. Shalom for one reason, he’s a Sephardi Jew who made aliyah in the 50s (if you don’t know the story of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews who made aliyah in the 50s, look into it, it’s a sad and painful story that we all need to know about and understand) which is remarkable that he has been an MK, I think, since the ’90s in a party dominated by Ashkenazim. When Labor left Sharon’s gov’t in ’03 and Netanyahu was shuffled to Finanace Minister, Silvan Shalom took over as Foreign Minister. And tally another one against the disengagement from Gaza.
8.) Moshe Ya’alon
“Bogie” Ya’alon is was a career soldier, rising to Chief of Staff under Sharon in ’02. He attempted to clean up the mess of the Intifada. Ya’alon has at least been sued and had an international warrant put out for his arrest for his involvement in the famed shelling in Qana and a few years ago he was nearly charged with war crimes in New Zealand. Ya’alon ended his military service after almost four decades less than one week before the disengagement. He, too, opposed it.
9.) Yuval Steinitz
This guy went from “Peace Now” activist, literally, to hardline hawk. He’s been an MK since ’99 when he took the seat the Netanyahu stepped away from after dismal results. Steinitz voted against the disengagement
10.) Leah Ness
Ness became MK in ’03 when Likud jumped to nearly 40 seats, and then lost her seat in ’06 when they shrunk to less than 15. Needless to say, we’ll see her in the next Knesset, and needless to say, opposed the disengagement.
11.) Yisrael Katz
12.) Yuli Edelstein
13.) Limor Livnat
14.) Haim Katz
15.) Yossi Peled
16.) Michael Eitan
17.) Dan Meridor
18.) Tzipi Hotobli
19.) Gila Gamliel
20.) Moshe Feiglin
21.) Ze’ev Elkin
22.) Yariv Levin
23.) Tzion Fanion
24.) Michael Ratzon
25.) Ayov Kara
26.) Dani Danon
27.) Carmel Sha’ama
28.) Ophir Ekonis
29.) Ehud Yatom
30.) Elali Edmaso
31.) Yitzhak Danino
32.) David Abu-Tzor
33.) Kati Sheetrit
34.) Miri Regev
35.) Sagiv Asulin
36.) Boaz Hatzani
37.) Guy Yifrach
38.) Asaf Hefetz
39.) Yehiel Leiter
40.) Keren Barak
41.) Daniel Benlolo
42.) Uzi Dayan

23 thoughts on “A closer look at Likud's top 10

  1. Thanks.
    A few questions:
    1) You wrote, “This will be your “we have no partner,” nonsense of Barak and Sharon” Would voting for Labor of Barak – the same guy – be a better option?
    2) Also, (and for the record, i’m not voting for Likud because of the party’s diplomatic positions), why did you only focus on each individual’s position regarding the Gaza disengagement, and not their overall position regarding the 2-state solution more generally? Some people, even on the left, were very against unilateral withdrawal as a method, rather than being in favor of long-term Israeli rule of Gaza (for example, after the disengagement, Bibi said he would have left Gaza, but as part of a peace agreement)?
    3) Additionally, why ONLY focus on the Palestinian track (when views on Syria, Lebanon and Iran are just as important if not more), or for that matter, only on diplomacy? Why not dicuss each candidate’s legislative actives in terms of social affairs, education, or the economy?
    4) Fianlly, where was the “closer look” at the positions of Labor candidates? Will you have the same thing when Kadima holds thier primaries in a few weeks? Shas? Meretz? UTJ?

  2. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.
    A few comments:
    1) It seems like ancient history, but Olmert was elected on the basis of Sharon’s “Convergence Plan,” whereby Israel would pull out all/most settlements east of the fence. Perhaps that’s not the plan most JewSchool readers favor, but it’s what the majority of Israelis prefer. How Olmert completely abandoned that plan, while now acting as if he is some prophit of peace, I’ll never understand.
    Point is, he/she who embraces that plan might garner many votes at the Likud’s expense.
    2)The Wye Accords were signed in ’98; Uzi Dayan, not Daya.
    2)The Likud split over the Disengagement, meaning that those who favored it went to Kadima with Sharon, and those who opposed stayed in Likud. So, as Jason S. writes, would it not be a bit more informative to state each candidates’ stance on other issues? Do you plan on noting that each person on the Kadima list supported the Disengagement?
    3)It’s more than nonsence to say that “we have no partner” was nonsence–it’s ethnic chauvinism. Which argument is it: Barak wasn’t friendly enough to Arafat at Camp David? Or, was it that Arafat, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to a peace conference after 40 years of conflict, simply had not done the background work to discuss the core issues? Or, was Arafat still so insulted by not being invited to Barak’s cabin that he had no choice but to reject the Clinton Parameters as a basis for negotiations in Dec. ’00?

  3. hey folks-
    thanks for the comments. On the spelling of MK Kara, this is a list from Ha’aretz and it’s how they spelled it. The ‘n’ in Uzi Dayan was simply not highlighted when I copied it. I focused on the disengagement because it is clear that the next PM will need to disengage or evacuate part of the West Bank and I think it’s fair to presume that one who rejected the disengagement from Gaza will follow suit re: WB. Jason, I focused on Likud because there is a VERY real possibility that Bibi will be the next PM and many of the top ten will get cabinet positions. It seems that Barak has little chance at becoming the next PM

  4. But you’re completely missing on no. 20 – Moshe Feiglin
    Zu Artzeinu activist with messianist dreams, Feiglin (sounds like Feigin) wants to use the Likkud as a platform for establishing a Jewish-Republic-of-Israel (something like the Islamic Republic next door). And Bibi is scared stiff of him.

  5. Amit-I didn’t touch on Feiglin for two reasons, 1) I don’t think he’ll actually be an MK after this next election, I would be surprised if Likud garnered more than a dozen seats. Plus, 2) he dropped from near the top of the list to halfway down the bottom. I think his craziness has screwed his political career.

  6. Jonathan-
    I just saw that! I’m shocked but those results, but I also wonder how accurate those polls are. They come on the heels of the Likud elections which puts the party into the minds of the public for the polling. I would be surprised if the polls that say they could get as many as 35 seats are actually accurate. The fact is that most Israelis support withdrawal from the territories and the end to the occupation, by virtue of that, I would be shocked if Likud performs as well as the polls say. Plus, even Bibi was surprised!

  7. I’m not sure I get it. You say that before you saw the latest polls, you didn’t think the Likud would get more than 12 seats. Yet you also said there was a very real chance Bibi would be the next PM. For Likud (or any party) to win the elections, they would, based on today’s popularity of different political parties, have to get a MINIMUM of 25 seats.
    You also said that “The fact is that most Israelis support withdrawal from the territories and the end to the occupation.”
    It isn’t clear if this is true. The majority of Israelis do indeed support a 2-state solution, and a pullout from much of the West Bank. But it seems like (from various polls) a minority would be in favor of dividing Jerusalem, which would be essential to any potential final status agreement (a recent poll in Haaretz also found a majority against ceding the Golan Heights to Syria, even in a peace agreement). Yes, the majority of Israelis don’t want to be in Jenin or Ramallah, and most are likely willing to give up Shiloh and Bracha and Beit El. But it becomes less clear in areas like Ariel and Gush Etziyon and Maale Adumim.
    My point about only focusing on the disengagement is that I think that the reason that Likud is leading in the polls right now has very little to do with a West Bank pullout. It has to do with the failure of Kadima on 3 main fronts – corruption, the rockets from Gaza, and the 2nd Lebanon war (Kadima is still relatively popular because of Livni’s popularity, and because more Israelis than not agree with the party policy on most issues). Labor is way behind because few people can differentiate it with Kadima in terms of diplomatic policy, and very few people like Barak. Finally, in times of economic crisis they might turn back to Netanyahu, who is credited by many with key financial reforms during his time as Finance Minister that led to the last few years of Israeli economic growth. And, for those who think there is a real chance of peace with Syria, and are willing to give up the Golan, Netanyahu is little different than Kadima or Labor here – he too, during his time as PM in the late 90s, expressed a willingness to pull out from most of the Golan, if not all, for a peace agreement.
    The Iran issue, which imo is the main issue that the next PM will likely have to face, is not going to likely decide votes, simply because all the major parties, for the most part, seem to agree on this – seeing how the situation plays out until a final decision on a military strike might have to be made.

  8. You say:
    I do not know how many seats Likud might get–I could see anywhere from 10-25 (to use an extreme range).
    I have no idea from where you get these numbers. It may be your fertile imagination. 10? Maybe. But then again Cina may make the Dali Lama its new Prime Minister. 25? Now that would be
    Not only do the polls show something much different – but to form a government he will, most likely, want more than 25.
    Just as frightening as the inclusion of several Feiglin people, as well as Beni Begin (who at least is a person of integrity) is the very few with positions along the lines of Dan Meridor. On top of this is the clear deal made with Shas that will make the religio-political environment even more tense.
    For the Center to take control it would have to go something like this:
    Kadima – 29
    Labor – 12
    Mertezt 8
    Green 2
    Support from the outside of maybe 10 Arab MKs
    Maybe a few MKs from Degel HaTorah/Agudat Yisrael
    This is unlikely. It would also means an unstable government with, perhaps, fewer than 61 within (i.e. a minority government).
    But as Hannukah approaches – let us remember that miracles do happen.

  9. I would suggest that the large “Center” in Israel has not found a suitable candidate in this election, a natural sucessor to Sharon, who atttempted to navigate a path between “peace” and “security,” whatever those terms mean.
    There is corruption and rocket fire from Gaza today, true. But, nobody has had more of a controversial career than Sharon, and there were multiple bombs going off in our towns every day during much of his tenure…yet he was very popular.
    That popularity stemmed, I think, from the fact that Sharon stayed on that “Center” path:
    He was able to garner near universal Israeli consensus, and American approval, for Operation Defensive Shield…and he was able to withdrawal the army and settlers from Gaza.
    He was able to begin constructing the fence/wall…and he almost certainly would have withdrawn most, if not all, settlements east of that fence.
    He scuffed at the notion of trading the Golan for a treaty with Asaad…yet he almost certainly would not have plunged Israel into a war in Lebanon without a specific plan and complete preparedness.
    Whoever grabs that Center path (which historically has been occupied by the Labor Party) will do well in every election in the foreseeable future.

  10. Jonathan writes:Whoever grabs that Center path (which historically has been occupied by the Labor Party) will do well in every election in the foreseeable future.
    To that I say-balderdash!
    Kadima is sinking in the polls. Labor looks weak(even though, after Barak they have a nice list).
    Likud, which just held its primaries which saw more Feiglin (right wing) people selected than Likud leadership had hoped for. Shas looks as though it will maintain its numbers.
    The Nationalist will get a few seats.
    If one sees Meretz and the Arab parties as left of center or left – exactly who is voting center?
    If one excludes the Arab parties (please do not flame me-I am not discounting those voters or those parties. But they are never a part of any coalition) there is not a very large left or center among Jewish voters.
    It is a pipe dream to think the center has a chance.

  11. hey all, just want to clarify some confusion from my post. I was under the incorrect assumption that Israel was still doing direct elections for PM. I am wrong about that. It’s hard to keep track when they switch back and forth so often! sorry for any confusion

  12. Meir,
    You’ll have to excuse me, as I’m having a bit of trouble understanding your posts.
    Are you saying that Meretz is a right-wing (on the Zionist scale) party? Does Benny Begin have integrity because he wants to maintain Israeli soverignty over Judea and Samaria, but he is adamantly opposed to granting the Palestinians Israeli citizenship or expelling them from the area? I think I’m misunderstanding.
    Let’s put it this way: the candidate who grabbed “Center” policies has won decively in 5 of the past 6 elections. The one exception, Bibi in ’96, occured when neither he nor Peres articulated “Center” positions.
    Let us pray that in this election, similar to ’96 in that no candidate seems to have grabbed the “Center,” Bibi will form a government with Barak staying at Defense, and Livni staying at Foreign. Such a coalition seems best suited to perhaps cure some of the enumerable internal ills in Israel, at least manage the Palestinian issue that has festered for more than a generation, and it might come up with an appropriate strategy that deals with the new regional reality: Iran is a nuclear power.

  13. To Jonathan
    I suggest that you read my words a bit more carefully. I said Meretz was center (compared to the Arab [parties) or left of center relative to most other parties.
    Regarding Benny Begin-you are misunderstanding. I hope that you are not suggesting that a person with a right wing outlook is, by definition, lacking in integrity.
    I do not like his politics. It seems that you too do not. But there is a virtual national consensus that, like his approach or not, he is a person of principles and integrity. The fact that I strongly dislike his policies does not mean that I can not recognize his integrity. He left politics for a decade rather than be part of a Likud that he felt has lost its way.
    I think it fair to say that Livni and Barak have grabbed the center position but have not attracted much excitement.
    If Bibi wins it is highly unlikely that Labor, which has had a pattern of joining whatever government comes along, will make that choice this time.
    Firstly, if Labor loses big time-Barak will be dumped as his party head(just as they did with Avram Mitznah). And with, or without Barak, Labor will need to grow an identity. This can only happen, as Likud just learned, in the opposition (barring a dramatic change in Bibi’s approach).
    With Bogie Ayalon,and Shaul Mofaz, in his coalition, it is only your wishful thinking that Barak would be named defense minister.
    It may be nice to hope for a Likud-Kadima-Labor coalition that leaves out Shas and the Nationalist party. But you are living in your own dream world if you think that is a likley scenario.

  14. Maybe it is my only wishful thinking that Barak would be named Defense Minister….or maybe it is the fact that last week the Israeli papers were replete with rumors that Bibi hopes to keep Barak at that post (unfortunately, I can’t find links for such stories, but I can provide one given more time.)
    I could be living in my own dream world about some Likud-Kadima-Labor coaltion…let’s hear what Bibi Netanyahu has to say, from yesterday’s Jerusalem Post–by Gil Hoffman–:
    “I will pursue this from a large Likud in a broad national-unity government, which is important for the challenges that lie ahead require the most experienced leadership, which I intend to provide.”
    That Bibi is living in his own dream world! He should contact you for advice Meir. But before you tell him about appointing Boogey or Mofaz from his non-unity coalition, you might want to inform Mofaz that he is longer in the Kadima party.
    And, I do think people on the far-right can have integrity. But Benny Begin advocates holding the territories, not granting the Palestinian there citizenship, and not expelling them. What’s his answer? “Autonomy”…or “Economic Peace” That’s not personal integrity or honesty…that is intellecual balderdash.
    If you are inclined to respond I’d be happy to read, but there is nothing else I can write about this stuff.

  15. Jonathan,
    Search for articles to back up your view taht Bibi wants Barak. You will find them.
    I agree that Bibi would like to keep Barak as his Defense Minister.
    And I would like to live, in good health to the age of 120.
    But reality has a role in politics.
    Labor will NOT be able to rebuild itself by sitting in a government with Likud (including as many as 5 Feiglin people) and Shas-not to mention Lieberman’s people.
    I too do not agree with Begin. But he is consistent in his views and will not sell out his principles. This is what I mean by integrity. He does not shift with the winds. I do not like his views. But there are others on the right who put ambition ahead of principles. He has never done so.
    As for Mofaz- again I ask what world do you live in? I am OK with opinions that differ from mine as long as they are based on correct information. Mofaz is indeed still in Kadima. He stands to be the number 2 after Livni following this week’s elections. He did take a short (a couple of weeks) respite from politics after losing to Livni. He did not quit Kadima. He is still very much a part of that party. Why would you state otherwise?
    A Likud-Kadima-Labor government is not in the cards-however nice the thought. No serious pundit expects this (though some hope for it).
    But as Hannukah will soon be upon us-miracles happen and You can dream.

  16. Fine Meir,
    I’ll respond a last time, in order to perhaps clarify this vexing matter.
    Firstly, if there is one thing I can assure you of, it’s that I don’t dream at night of Barak and Bibi (although Tzipi Livni is a beautiful lady.)
    Ok–read very closely:
    (1) You keep writing that a unity government is only a figment of my imagination. Most people in Israel consider a unity government to mean a government with Likud and/or Kadima and/or Labor.
    (2) You write that Barak staying on in Defense is another wild fantasy of mine, especially considering that Ayalon and Mofaz will be in Bibi’s coalition.
    This means:
    (a) unlike most people in Israel, you don’t consider
    a Likud/Kadima government to be a unity government (which is your
    right, although it’s an unusual view.)
    (b) you weren’t aware that Mofaz is in Kadima, which is why I wrote that you should call him and inform him of this fact.
    Ok? Ok.
    This time I really am done writing about this, because none of us can really predict the outcome of the election.

  17. Jonathan,
    Just as you have confused Ya’alon and Mofaz (two different parties)- so too you confuse poliical terminology.
    Most pundits agree that Kadima will join a Likud government. Many in Kadima are former Likud members and still may be Likud in their hearts.
    But if Likud and Kadima come together it would be as part of a coalition government. It would NOT be a national unity government.
    A national unity government brings together the Left and the Right to work together for the common good. A National Unity government is NOT a coalition of the right of center and the center.

  18. Meir,
    I keep saying I’m done with this post, but you keep writing things that are funny–I assume that you intend to be funny.
    Your earlier post you wrote “Bogie Ayalon.”
    In response, because I had read your post, I too wrote: “Ayalon.”
    Then, I realized our mistake, and I wrote: “Ya’alon.”
    What’s next, you are goint to nail me for not using two spaces after a period?

  19. From elections expert Meir Eynaim:
    “If Bibi wins it is highly unlikely that Labor, which has had a pattern of joining whatever government comes along, will make that choice this time.
    Firstly, if Labor loses big time-Barak will be dumped as his party head(just as they did with Avram Mitznah). And with, or without Barak, Labor will need to grow an identity. This can only happen, as Likud just learned, in the opposition (barring a dramatic change in Bibi’s approach).
    With Bogie Ayalon,and Shaul Mofaz, in his coalition, it is only your wishful thinking that Barak would be named defense minister.”
    “A Likud-Kadima-Labor government is not in the cards-however nice the thought. No serious pundit expects this (though some hope for it).
    But as Hannukah will soon be upon us-miracles happen and You can dream.”
    From today’s jpost:

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