The Likud Party’s Central Committee yesterday evening comfortably approved the deal which was announced last week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman, for the two parties to run a joint electoral list in January’s election.
Likud’s Government Services Minister Michael Eitan, who is opposed to the agreement, failed to gather enough signatures to force a secret vote on the issue, which he hoped would undermine support for the deal. Instead, the joint ticket was approved overwhelmingly shortly after Netanyahu had taken to the stage telling members, “We vote today for a merger that won’t alter the Likud but will change the State of Israel… Joining forces will give us the strength to rule, to act, to change and to govern Israel with might.”
The campaign focus of the joint ticket has yet to be outlined, with the two parties holding differing positions on a number of issues. It also remains unclear exactly how the joint list will be constructed. A document circulated towards the start of yesterday’s meeting said that Knesset seats are to be divided proportionally between the two factions – with Likud getting 27 mandates and Yisrael Beitenu getting 15, reflecting their current respective parliamentary strengths. However, details of which Knesset spots will be allocated to which party on the ticket, or how involved Netanyahu and Lieberman will be in putting the list together were not made available.
In other election news, prominent journalist Ofer Shelah, currently a commentator at Maariv, announced yesterday that he is joining Yesh Atid. The party’s leader Yair Lapid confirmed on Sunday that the second slot on the party’s list of candidates will be filled by Rabbi Shai Piron. Meanwhile, Labour Party leader Shelly Yachimovich is facing criticism from within her party over changes that she plans to make to the format of elections for the party’s parliamentary candidates.