Knesset members behind attacks on the left, Arabs and asylum seekers won the day at the Likud primaries. All moderates but one were pushed down the list, and probably won’t serve in the next Knesset.
The Likud, Israel’s ruling party the last four years, and the one expected to win the next elections according to every poll I have seen since 2009 (!), held its primaries on Sunday and Monday. The outcome was somewhat expected but is still stunning, and more than anything, it reveals the deep change Israel is going through.
The top of the ticket will be held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Roughly one-third of the seats will go to Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party, as part of the deal on the joint ticket the two parties reached (Lieberman himself will hold the number two spot); therefore, only the first 20 candidates on the Likud list are expected to enter the Knesset.
All the so-called Likud “moderates,” except for Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, were pushed out of the top seed and will probably be out of the Knesset; that includes ministers Benny Begin, Michael Eitan and Dan Meridor. The most vocal backbenchers – those behind attacks on the left, Arabs and human rights NGOs – won the day. The Likud looks right now like the Tea Party’s dream team.
#1 in the Likud primaries is Gidon Sa’ar, the current education minister and the person behind the school trips that take Israeli children to the settlement in occupied Hebron, and the effort to open a university in the settlement of Ariel. He also has a lot to do with the attempt to shut down the Department of Government and Politics at Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva.
#5 Danny Danon: One of the most extreme right-wing Knesset members, who incited against asylum seekers in the rally that turned into a riot in Tel Aviv. Danon was the man who brought Glenn Beck to Israel.
#6 (Reuven Rivlin) and #12 (Tzipi Hotovely) support annexing the West Bank. To their credit, they also toy with the idea of giving full citizen rights to the Palestinian population. Hotovely once organized a Knesset hearing on “the problem” of Jewish-Arab interracial relationships.
#8 Ze’ev Elkin, the brains behind many recent anti-democratic legislative attempts – including the infamous “boycott law.”
#9 Yariv Levin: Not as high-profile as Danon, but even more active. Levin led the effort to pack the Supreme Court with conservative judges. He took part in the effort to limit the funding of human rights NGOs and in the legislation of the boycott law. Levin led the committee that drafted the law forcing a national referendum in the event of a retreat from any territory held by Israel.
#13 Miri Regev, former IDF spokesperson, who called Arab MKs “traitors” and referred to asylum seekers from Africa as a “cancer.”
#14 Moshe Feiglin, who wants the state to encourage Palestinians – he once referred to them as parasites – to leave the country. Feiglin’s claim to fame was the civil disobedience campaign he launched against the Oslo Accord. One of his latest op-eds was titled, “I am a proud homophobe.”
Here is the full list of the first 20 names (the final list will be a bit different due to affirmative action and other internal Likud procedures – and remember that we are still waiting for Lieberman’s men): 1. Gidon Sa’ar; 2. Gilad Erdan; 3. Silvan Shalom; 4. Yisrael Katz; 5. Danny Danon; 6. Reuven Rivlin; 7. Moshe Ya’alon; 8. Ze’ev Elkin; 9. Yariv Levin; 10. Yuli Edelstein; 11. Haim Katz; 12. Tzipi Hotovely; 13. Miri Regev; 14. Moshe Feiglin; 15. Yuval Steinitz; 16. Tzachi Hanegbi; 17. Limor Livnat; 18. Ofir Akunis; 19. Gila Gamliel; 20. Carmel Shama-Hacohen.
One final note: More than anything, this list is the result of the occupation. The longer it lasts, the crazier this country gets. And it’s happening faster than people think.