Netanyahu, Transportation Minister Deal Paves the Way for Likud Leadership Vote

The agreement, which was approved by the party tribunal, stipulates that a special majority (more than 50 percent of committee members) will be needed to form a joint Knesset slate with another party.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, December 14, 2015.
Olivieh Fitoussi

The Likud Central Committee must approve any joint lists with other parties, according to an agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, who chairs the Likud secretariat.

The agreement, which was approved by the party tribunal, stipulates that a special majority (more than 50 percent of committee members) will be needed to form a joint Knesset slate with another party. In exchange, Katz promised to support Netanyahu’s motion for early leadership elections for Likud.

Katz had been staunchly opposed to bringing up the date of the election. The condition dictated by Netanyahu blocks a joint run with other parties in the next general election and shoots down his initiative to form a “Republican Party,” envisioned as a multi-party right-wing bloc, before the next general election.

Katz seeks to block a move to unite with parties such as Yisrael Beiteinu, Habayit Hayehudi or Kulanu in a so-called zipper arrangement, in which representatives from all the partner parties would be guaranteed high places on the slate.

On Sunday, Katz sent an announcement to Likud Central Committee members, who will vote Monday on bringing the party leadership election forward.

“Even today I oppose the idea of reserving slots for other parties on the Likud list at the expense of Likud candidates,” Katz said, adding that he will support Netanyahu’s early-primary proposal as long as it does not enable an end run around the party constitution’s special-majority requirement.

Netanyahu recently asked Kulanu chairman Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to consider running with Likud in the next general election. Some prominent Likudniks were concerned that the prime minister might try to bring in additional right-wing parties as well. Sources close to Katz made it clear that Katz will take action against Netanyahu if the prime minister does not promise unequivocally that Likud will run independently in the next general election.