Likud officials threaten 'intifada' over Netanyahu's coalition plans
Bitterness expressed over Rivlin’s expected dismissal, lack of ethnic diversity; party official: Netanyahu doesn’t want a liberal Likud, but a Lieberman-style Likud.
Party officials on Sunday threatened an "intifada", or uprising, over what they call “Netanyahu’s failure to give out positions” to members of Likud and other formerly close coalition partners.
The first conflict involves Netanyahu’s anticipated decision to dismiss Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin from his position. “Netanyahu doesn’t want a liberal Likud, but a Lieberman-style Likud,” a party official said, adding, “Netanyahu’s increased closeness to Lieberman at the expense of the liberal camp – Rivlin, [Dan] Meridor and [Benny] Begin – is very worrisome.”
Although over the past few weeks Rivlin reportedly received a series of promises that he would keep his position, including a written promise from a third party, on Saturday it turned out otherwise. “Rivlin is the first to be disappointed. He is learning what other high-ranking party members to whom Netanyahu made promises learned – that Netanyahu’s word is worthless," another official said.
"Likud officials do not yet understand the extent of the party’s loss in the elections. Netanyahu has chosen to transfer the important portfolios to the coalition partners. Even the high-ranking Likud officials who were appointed ministers will find that the portfolios they receive will be disappointing and unattractive,” another official said.
In addition, the ethnic card is expected to be played once more over the next few days because with Shas out of the government, only three ministers will be from the Mizrahi community. Of them, only one or two – Silvan Shalom and maybe Gila Gamliel – will be from Likud. The others are Eli Ben-Dahan of Habayit Hayehudi and Meir Cohen of Yesh Atid.
“The new government will have the fewest Sephardi ministers,” a Likud official said. “Netanyahu knows that very well. The Likud’s membership is very sensitive to this subject. It knows that without Shas, it will have a problem when it comes to the matter of ethnicity, and that problem needs to be solved.”
Meanwhile, Netanyahu on Sunday thanked his outgoing cabinet, in what he said was "probably" its last session before the new Israeli government takes over.
"I would like to thank the ministers for their excellent work during the past four years," Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu is expected to fianlize coalition deals by late Monday and present a new government by as early as Tuesday. His deadline expires Saturday.
Among the biggest challenges facing the incoming government were lowering the exorbitant cost of living in Israel, advancing social equality and security threats, Netanyahu told the cabinet on Sunday.