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Netanyahu’s former Likud ally says PM has brought party to ‘new low’

David Bitan takes issue with apparent backdoor deal to pressure World Likud chair to drop out of race for reelection and allow coalition whip to replace him

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) with coalition chairman David Bitan at a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset on November 27, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) with coalition chairman David Bitan at a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset on November 27, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A former loyal defender of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at the premier on Thursday over the chairmanship of the World Likud umbrella organization, claiming that the premier and Likud coalition whip Miki Zohar had brought the party “to a new low.”

“Unfortunately, Likud has reached a new low. Netanyahu and Miki Zohar are pressuring [World Likud head] Yaakov Hagoel to betray his friends in the World Likud and the Jewish Agency, while conditioning the appointment of [UN envoy] Danny Danon to another term as ambassador on [Hagoel] abiding by their demands,” Bitan tweeted.

Bitan was apparently referring to assessments that Netanyahu and Zohar are pressuring Hagoel to drop his bid for reelection as chairman of the Likud party’s global wing. Hagoel  is running against Zohar.

Elections were held earlier this week, but were deemed too close to call with a final decision expected to be announced in the coming days.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, Netanyahu had agreed to appoint Danon as the next ambassador to Paris, but is currently threatening to walk back the move if Hagoel doesn’t drop out.

Bitan had supported Hagoel in the World Likud election, which is seen to represent a power struggle between Central Likud Committee chairman Haim Katz and Zohar, who is backed by Netanyahu.

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