“The Likud shifted rightward” were the headlines on all of the major Israeli news sites , as over 70,000 Likud members selected their choice of candidates for the 19th Knesset Likud list, on Monday.
The results mark a victory for the more nationalist members of the Likud, who took the higher spots on the list. Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar came in first place for the second time in a row, and will be placed in 3rd place in the merged Likud Beitenu list, after Netanyahu and Lieberman. Ministers Gilad Erdan, Silvan Shalom, Israel Katz and “Boogie” Ya’alon came in to the first ten slots, while the more senior and moderate ministers and the symbols of the Likud, Dan Meridor, Michael Eitan and Benny Begin, came in far beyond in unrealistic spots.
Likud hawk Danny Danon, a freshman MK in the current Knesset and a frequent critic of President Obama surprised many by winning the sixth slot. Four women will be in the Likud’s top 20 candidates: MKs Tzipi Hotovely and Miri Regev, Deputy Minister Gila Gamliel and Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat.
Moshe Feiglin, who heads the rightist Jewish Leadership faction of the Likud party, came in for the first time in 14th place in the primaries, meaning he will be placed 15th on its Knesset list.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the members of the Likud shortly before 1:00 a.m. Monday night / Tuesday morning, after the official results of the party’s primaries were announced.
“We have a national team, a strong and young team, a veteran and talented team that came from all parts of the nation and represents all sections of the people,” Netanyahu said, adding, “Today it has been proven once again that the Likud is the party of the people.”
He turned to those members who did not get a realistic spot on the list and said, “I appreciate your contribution to the state and I would like to continue relying on your help.”
Netanyahu then directly spoke to Ministers Dan Meridor and Benny Begin, both of whom placed lower on the list and will more than likely not be MKs in the next Knesset.
“We grew up together in Jerusalem. We, along with [Knesset Speaker] Ruby Rivlin and others in the party were brought up on the values of Jabotinsky. I’ll maintain these values in the next government, which I will lead with G-d’s help, and I want you by my side.”
The Prime Minister further said, “In order to be able to govern we need to have one large Likud. I believe that the people of Israel will not waste their votes this time on small parties or on remains of parties. I believe they will give their votes to the largest bloc of the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu. This time, we are going big. Together we will win and together we will continue to lead the State of Israel.”
Though the media and opposite parties renounced the unattractive Likud list in their eyes, and jumped to claim that the Likud does not represent the nation anymore, traditional right-wing voters might find it rather attractive, which might help Netanyahu fire up the base ahead of the Jan. 22 elections and not fear losing votes to the only rightwing alternative, the Jewish Home. Recent polls give Likud Beitenu between 33 and 37 seats out of 120 seats in the Knesset.