Likudniks Say No to Meridor Slot

Likud lawmakers have told their party chairman, MK Benjamin Netanyahu, that they will oppose reserving a slot on the February Likud Knesset list for former minister Dan Meridor. "Meridor helped the Likud by slamming the door 99 times and joined the Center party and caused the downfall of the Likud," one Likud MK said. "In 2006 he was negotiating to join Kadima when Likud was at a low point. The activists have not forgiven him to this day," the lawmaker said.

"It is inconceivable that someone who worked against Likud will return now like a prince and receive a place on the list without running like the rest of us," a Likud lawmaker said.

Netanyahu met Tuesday with Meridor and discussed the possibility of reserving a slot on the list. At the same time, he is working to counter the opposition of his fellow faction members over the move, discussing the possibility that he would be allowed as party chairman to reserve a few slots for people of his choosing.

In his talks with other Likud parliamentarians, Netanyahu is careful not to mention the names of those he wants on the list. However, Likud MKs say agreement can apparently be reached regarding reserving a slot for former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon, with whom Netanyahu has been talking about joining Likud. MKs say Ya'alon would be an important "acquisition" for the party because of his military background.

Netanyahu met with Ya'alon and Meridor a number of times in recent months.

The Likud has been quiet recently, but with a primary ahead at a still-undetermined date, and Netanyahu's reserved-slot initiative, controversy is assured. According to polls, Likud has the largest number of "open" slots on its list compared to other parties. Most of the MKs, and certainly the prominent ones, are expected to be placed high on the list.