Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Secretary of State John Kerry
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Secretary of State John Kerry Photo by Matty Stern / U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv
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Kobi Kalmanovitz
Danny Danon. Photo by Kobi Kalmanovitz

The Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday accepted Likud MK Danny Danon’s petition to allow Likud to discuss any issue at its convention on Wednesday, paving the way for Likud's central body to debate United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace plan and potentially block Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from making controversial decisions regarding the plan.

Likud members will also be able to vote on a future split from their party's electoral ally, Yisrael Beiteinu, and approve far-reaching changes to the party’s regulations.

Sources in Likud said Tuesday that they intend to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court and ask for a stay on carrying out some of the District Court judge’s recommendations.

Danon's extraordinary petition related to a series of decisions by Likud's internal court, which barred the party from making changes to its regulations or holding debates on controversial issues at its convention. Judge Daphna Avnieli also ordered Netanyahu and Likud to pay Danon 40,000 shekels in court fees.

“We have proved that democracy is Likud’s way,” Danon said following the decision. “We will maintain the party’ democratic nature throughout and ensure that the largest party in the Knesset and its last bastion of democracy will stay loyal to its values.”

The judge ruled that the Likud Court overstepped its authority when it banned any alterations to the party’s regulations, saying this situation “is unreasonable and disproportionately harms the convention chairman’s right to decide whether certain suggestions to change the party’s regulations should be brought for discussion and voted on by Likud members.”

Likud’s legal advisor, Attorney Avu Halevy, on Tuesday noted that the judge also ruled that as Likud's chairman, Netanyahu is the sole authority entrusted with setting the party’s regulations and the convention’s agenda — and not Danon.

Halevy said the court accepted his position that some of Danon’s suggested alterations to the party’s constitution could be discussed by the convention only in accordance with further decisions by the Likud Court. “Likud will continue to be punctilious to ensure the movement’s democratic principles and that the party’s institutions function to safeguard the members’ rights,” said Halevy.

Danon petitioned the District Court in December after Netanyahu managed to block at the last minute a vote on cancelling the party’s alliance with Yisrael Beiteinu. The Likud Court forbid Danon to bring the proposal to vote. The proposal was meant to prevent Netanyahu from advancing a full merger between Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, creating a single party.