Uzi Landau Is Likud Choice After Sharon and Netanyahu

If neither Ariel Sharon nor Benjamin Netanyahu was running for the leadership of the Likud, the party's members would elect the most extreme candidate, MK Uzi Landau, as their chairman, according to a new poll of Likud members conducted for Haaretz by Dialog on Monday this week.

The poll revealed that Landau, who announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Likud on Tuesday, would beat Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Finance Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz.

The poll teaches us more about the Likud members, who chose the chairman, than about Landau: The 152,000 party members are more extreme, right-wing and nationalist than ever before. When they reject the three most senior members of the current party list, including the former chief of staff, in preference of Landau, they indicate that in their Likud, there is no longer place for someone who is moderate or even relatively moderate.

This appears to be the first time that the large body of Likud members is speaking with the same voice as its Central Committee members.

The reason is clear: More than two years ago, some 300,000 people signed up for the Likud, most of them in order to help Sharon win the race against Netanyahu, who had returned from "civilian life." About half of them dropped out over the next year or so. Only the hard core remained, together with the veterans, the settlers and the Jewish Leadership faction of Moshe Feiglin.