Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a painful but predictable blow Sunday night when two hardline politicians from Likud’s younger guard were elected to key positions in the party’s internal mechanism.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, won in the race for, respectively, chair of the Likud’s Central Committee and chair of its Bureau.
The 3,600-member Central Committee has the power to change Likud‘s constitution. It used to choose the party’s Knesset list, but that power was taken away in an effort to clean up the Central Committee’s image after a series of corruption and bribery scandals broke among its members.
The Bureau is charged with deciding the party’s policy positions on issues facing the country, from economics to the Palestinians, but Likud prime ministers in the past have proved able to circumvent those positions.
Eighty percent of the 3,600 Likud Central Committee members turned out to vote in ballot boxes placed throughout the country, signaling that despite its steadily declining authority over the years, the body has maintained its vibrancy.
In the vote for chair of the Likud’s Secretariat, the incumbent, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, beat out his challenger, MK Miri Regev, despite the fact that Regev enjoyed the support of the party’s top chieftains, Interior Minister Gideon Saar, Communications Minister Gilad Erdan and Energy Minister Shalom.
The Secretariat controls the party’s operations and financing.
The ascension of Danon and Elkin, who are perceived as being to the right of the prime minister on the Palestinian issue, to key positions in Likud underlines Netanyahu’s receding power over the party and its delegates.