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The how-to guide to making an MK: Take all your relatives, friends, acquaintances and employees, have them sign on as members of the Likud, use all your clout at the local branch to be elected to the central committee, and proceed to wheel and deal. It pays off. To gain election to the central committee from the largest local branch of the party (in Tel Aviv) all it takes is about 50 registered members, and if you've covered their expenses, the NIS 3,200 you spent on their membership dues will soon be recompensed by Knesset hopefuls. To ensure the election of your own first choice, who doesn't even have to be a member of the central committee or even of the party, find him a little - but powerful - market niche in one of the geographic provinces or special-interest sectors. Out there, all it takes is a few hundred votes, and if you get 600 commitments of which only 400 of them make good, you're in.

Members of the Likud Central Committee were insulted when, for instance, they found out how Inbal Gavrieli was elected to their list. She may become a member of a faction consisting of Gavrieli, Roni Bar-On, and Eitan Sulami - if the Likud succeeds in swearing in more than 40 MKs. Even if it receives fewer seats, it can adopt the Norwegian system and have its ministers resign from Knesset, making room for the nearly elected who are breathing down their necks.

The real struggle right now is not being held between Likud and Labor, but between those who would enforce the law and those who skirt around it. In Labor, but mainly in Likud, the primaries are tainted by criminal behavior - they might better be known as "crimaries."

Criminologists find parallels between terror groups and criminal organizations, which pose a similar level of danger to the foundations of the state. The police did not share the general astonishment expressed by the public at hearing the tales of criminal conduct in the elections; police investigators were waiting for the return of their regular customers, who have avoided convictions - and at times trials - in previous serial cases, thanks to the compassion of judges or to the "prosecution policy" of avoiding indictments on "trifling matters."

The problem is not the means of procuring seats in Knesset, but its purpose. Organized crime has spawned a political wing, and is penetrating the government echelons. It is literally taking the law into its own hands. Its influence will be felt in legislation, votes (for the Judicial Selection Committee, the president - the vital partner in the pardoning process - and the State Comptroller) and the immunity granted from surveillance of home, office, car and telephones registered in the name of an MK, unless a judge issues a permit. And the lashing that the police received following the wiretapping of Avigdor Lieberman is sufficient pretense to limit these permits.

The Likud found itself in hot water in the 1980's in an affair that involved deputy minister Michael Dekel, party treasurer Yonah Peled and the man authorized to sign documents for the party, Ehud Olmert, who was acquitted by Judge Oded Mudrik, albeit with some harsh words meted out by the judge. A similar atmosphere prevails today, although the essence is somewhat different: No longer a party that has criminals in it, but criminals who have a party. When three high-ranking officials of the Public Security Ministry - the minister, his deputy and his assistant - were all subject to the mercies of the central committee in the struggle over their places on the list, very few organs of power remained outside the control of crime, although perhaps in its sights - television (the "Broadcasting Committee" of politics), the polling companies, and the Shin Bet - whose higher echelons also were also clouded over early in the last decade by their over-closeness to Aryeh Deri, who was then under police surveillance - which deals only with political subversion. When the police investigations division threatens the power of sources of criminal subversion, the latter enlist their political partners to disrupt the investigators and the law.