Netanyahu Appoints Two Women to Likud Knesset Slate

Prime minister finalizes party ticket after being turned down by several potential candidates.

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PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the launch of Likud's election campaign, Jan. 5, 2015. Credit: Dudu Bachar

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided on Wednesday to reserve slots on Likud’s ticket for two women – Dr. Anat Berko and Dr. Limor Samimian-Darash.

The two are to be ranked 11th and 23rd respectively, places seen high enough to ensure their entrance into the Knesset, after being vetted by the Central Elections Committee.

Berko, a reserve Lt. Col., is a world-renowned terrorism expert whose research focuses on suicide bombers and their handlers, and lectures at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. Samimian-Darash, of the Federmann School of Public Policy and Government at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, once served as Gideon Sa’ar’s parliamentary assistant.

The decision to reserve slots for the two candidates ended Netanyahu’s long and sometimes embarrassing search for attractive figures to put on his party’s ticket. Party leaders urged him to put women in two high slots on the list, after only two female MKs were ranked in the primaries in places high enough to make it into the Knesset.

Sources close to Netanyahu this week spread the rumor that former Miss Israel Limor Abargil was a possible candidate for a reserved slot on the Likud list, after floating the name of journalist Erel Segal last week. Segal had met Netanyhau and told him he would pass on the opportunity after two “sleepless nights” of agonizing, as he put it on Facebook.

Dr. Anat Berko.

In recent weeks other figures, such as Miriam Peretz and Netanya Mayor Miriam Fierberg, also turned down offers to join Likud’s list. Sources close to Netanyahu confirmed last week they had held talks with actor Sasha Demidov about joining the party list, but nothing had come of them.

Netanyahu even appealed to the public at large, in what was seen as an election gimmick, to suggest candidates for a reserved place on the ticket. This move also failed to yield the desired results.

Partly leaders also looked into the possibility of reserving a high slot for former Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, in a bid to end the bickering between him and Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely over the 20th slot on the party slate. Dichter refused, insisting on a full recount of the primary votes. Following a recount on Wednesday, Hotovely beat Dichter by 101 votes and will be ranked 20th, while Dichter will be placed 26th.