The sole Likud minister to publicly oppose the prime minister’s push to run in a joint list with Yisrael Beytenu in the upcoming elections was forced to admit defeat Tuesday after an overwhelming majority of party activists voted to support the move the night before.
Minister of Improvement of Government Services Michael Eitan, who did his best to prevent the alliance from gaining approval by the Likud Central Committee, admitted that events had followed their due democratic course, but hinted at concerns for the party’s future in an interview to Army Radio Tuesday morning.
“That is the nature of democracy,” he said, but, taking a swipe at Yisrael Beytenu, added that he hoped the democratic character of Likud would remain unchanged.
Ahead of the Monday vote, Eitan worked frantically to have the alliance decided upon by secret ballot in the belief that many who voted in favor on Monday night would have cast their vote differently in private. However, he was unable to obtain enough signatures to support a secret ballot, and a public show of hands carried the day for the partnership. Eitan conceded that most Likud members seem to support the joint list, but claimed that “at least 25 percent of the Likud are not happy with the move.”
“I may have been the only one to speak openly, but many opposed the deal…. In the crowd yesterday there were a few hundred who didn’t really agree with the decision,” Eitan said. “Perhaps a secret vote would have passed with a smaller majority, but I have to admit that most people supported it.”
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman dismissed reports of objections within the Likud ranks to forming a joint list. He told Israel Radio on Tuesday that the Likud Central Committee understands that joining forces will secure an election victory for the “national camp” and ensure it leads a stable government. Liberman also confirmed that he intends to continue as foreign minister in the next government, following reports that he was also offered the defense portfolio.
The Labor party was scheduled to hold a meeting on Tuesday afternoon in Tel Aviv to approve new regulations for its own list ahead of primary elections in November.