The Faction / Likud A, Likud B
"I'm sorry for you, brother" is what ex-Shinui minister Joseph Paritzky wanted to tell Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu after seeing the results of the Likud primary, which ended yesterday.
According to Paritzky, Netanyahu is probably praying that Labor will do well in the Febuary 10 election, which would mean fewer seats for Likud. That's because Netanyahu's Likud is a split entity: Fewer seats mean less slots for would-be rebels.
As things stand now, if Likud clinches the 30-odd seats the polls are projecting, Netanyahu would do well to appoint two faction leaders instead of one. The first would head the obedient half of Likud, and the second would rally the insubordinates, who include past rebels and current radicals.
Together, the insubordinates account for at least half of Likud's first 30 slots, possibly more. If Likud wins the election and Netanyahu becomes prime minister, he will have double the trouble: He would be left presiding over Likud's obedient half in the cabinet, while the insubordinates stay in the Knesset to make his life miserable as legislators.
Leah Ness (10th), Michael Ratzon (24th), Ayoob Kara (25th) and Gila Gamliel (19th) bring new rebel blood to the Likud list. And then there is Ze'ev Elkin (21st), who acquired some rebel experience in Kadima, and may wish to apply it in Likud. Danny Danon (26th) ran for the Likud leadership against Netanyahu and his arch-rival Moshe Feiglin (20th), under the banner "Right of Netanyahu." Danon would join the other legislators who refer to Israel's Arab population as "a fifth column."
Netanyahu's associates say that the list's makeup poses no problem, and that they are pleased with the results.
The extreme-rightists are not a problem, they say, since the last inter-party mutiny was brought on by former prime minister Ariel Sharon's decision to pull out of the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu, they say, would never go ahead with such reckless moves, and would thus not give his partymen any reason to revolt.
Furthermore, they say, the current Likud list would approve a peace plan like the one Menachem Begin presented the party in 1979, before signing the peace agreement with Egypt.