A Likud party panel announced Thursday that the son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon will not be allowed to run in the upcoming primary that will determine the party’s slate for the April 9 general election.
Gilad Sharon has been barred from the February 5 primaries because he is three months and 11 days short of the three years of membership required to be eligible to run for a post on the slate.
Notably, the Likud secretariat recently decided that Yoav Gallant will be allowed to run in the primaries despite having only defected from the Kulanu party last month.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Gilad Sharon’s request that an exception be made, a decision that Sharon claimed was politically motivated and based on a personal vendetta that arose from the historical rivalry between his late father and the current prime minister, the Walla news site reported.
Sharon is expected to appeal the decision.
Sharon, 52, currently runs his family’s sheep and cow farm in Havat Shikmim, near the city of Sderot. He has never been a politician, although he famously supported his father’s contentious 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, in which all Jewish settlements in the coastal enclave were evacuated.
At the time he railed against Netanyahu who opposed the plan, calling him a “traitor.” Last month, however, he told Hadashot TV that Netanyahu was the best candidate to lead Israel.
He also called his father’s defection from Likud to form the now-defunct centrist Kadima party “a mistake.”
Sharon was hoping to run for the party spot reserved for a candidate from the southern Negev region — against the brother of disgraced ex-president Moshe Katsav.
Lior Katsav, 49, is a lawyer who was elected in 1998 as mayor of the city of Kiryat Malachi, making him the youngest mayor in the country.
Katsav had a key role in the legal defense team of his older brother, who was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison in 2010 for a series of rape and sexual harassment offenses.
But he has now said his brother’s actions shouldn’t affect voters’ decision since it is he, and not his brother, who is up for election. He’s already run several times unsuccessfully for a Likud seat in the past, losing in 2008 to none other than Omri Sharon, Gilad’s brother.
Both Gilad Sharon and Lior Katsav have faced accusations of wrongdoing themselves. Katsav was accused of sexual harassment in 2007, but the case was closed when complaints were deemed unfounded. Sharon was involved in the so-called Greek island corruption case, in which businessman David Appel was suspected of paying him a very high salary as a form of bribery intended for his father. That case, too, was eventually closed.