After losing seats, it’s splitsville for Likud-Beytenu

Following elections that saw both parties reduced in size, Benjamin Netanyahu to pry his party from Yisrael Beytenu, and hopes to do away with primaries as well, reports say

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

The Likud and Yisrael Beytenu parties will end their affair as a joint faction and go back to their old lives as separate entities in the nascent government, Channel 10 reported Sunday.

Some five months after the surprising announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Liberman about their parties joining forces for the elections, and after both slates lost seats in the ensuing vote on January 22, the parties are set to split.

The report was formally denied by the Likud, but sources in the party were quoted as saying it was accurate but that no date had been set for the separation. Likud-Beytenu won 31 seats in the elections, having held 42 in the last Knesset (Likud 27 and Yisrael Beytenu 15).

The agreement between the parties was a temporary one, Netanyahu and Liberman said in October, emphasizing that the parties were only running together in the elections and not merging.

Also on Sunday, Israeli media reported that Netanyahu was ready to get rid of the Likud’s primaries election system. Channel 2 quoted Likud sources who claimed the prime minister was “jealous” of Liberman and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who chose their lists without the interference of party faithful casting ballots.

Had Netanyahu been able to choose the Likud’s list, he would have had a much easier time distributing his party’s posts in the Knesset and in staffing the Cabinet of the new government, the report claimed.

The results in November’s Likud primaries showed a surge of support for young, right-wing party members like Danny Danon and Moshe Feiglin. It also marked the end of veteran and more moderate legislators like Dan Meridor, Avi Dichter, Michael Eitan and Benny Begin — four of the previous government’s central ministers, all of whom lost their Knesset seats.

Netanyahu began handing out ministerial posts Sunday, mostly bypassing the young up-and-comers and angering several MKs within his faction with his choices.

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