The Jerusalem Post

Netanyahu fails to bring forward Likud primary


Likud and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu tried unsuccessf­ully over the last few days to persuade top figures in his party to hold the next Likud leadership primary much sooner than planned, sources in the party said Tuesday.

According to Likud bylaws, the party must hold a leadership race ahead of the next election for Knesset. If Netanyahu could move up the primary to the coming weeks, no serious candidate likely would challenge him, and he would be able to remain Likud leader until just ahead of the next Knesset election, which could be years away.

But Likud secretaria­t head MK Israel Katz and Likud Central Committee head MK Haim Katz both said they strongly oppose advancing the primary.

Right after losing power, the party needs a period of stability without internal fights, Israel Katz said.

Haim Katz said: “Bibi [Netanyahu] was chosen by a wide margin to be our leader for the next four and a half years, and no one is challengin­g that. So why would we need to have primaries now? We need Bibi to lead the opposition now and bring down this government.”

Israel Katz said he also opposes advancing the primary because Netanyahu could be more vulnerable later on as his criminal trial advances.

Those who see themselves as future Likud leadership candidates oppose advancing the primary, including Israel Katz and MKs Nir Barkat, Yuli Edelstein and Avi


Barkat criticized Netanyahu for not being willing to rotate as prime minister with a candidate from Likud, a move that could have kept the party in power.

“I think the prime minister made a mistake in judgment,” Barkat told Channel 12. “Had the prime minister been willing to move aside and hold primaries for a candidate who would head the nationalis­t camp, I think the camp would have united behind the winner. But he made a mistake in what he decided.”

A battle is expected within Likud over the sparse posts available to the party in the opposition.

Votes by secret ballot will be held in the faction for the posts of faction chairman and chairman of the Knesset State Control Committee.

Netanyahu wants the faction chairman, who will coordinate the opposition parties, to be former Knesset speaker Yariv Levin, his close confidant. Former environmen­tal protection minister Gila Gamliel is running against him. Levin has an advantage because he speaks fluent Arabic and can try to cooperate with the Joint List.

The State Control Committee, which monitors the government, cannot be held by a former minister due to conflicts of interest. The candidates for the post are outgoing Likud faction chairman Miki Zohar and MK Shlomo Karhi.

There are also a limited number of places on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense and Finance committees. There are many more Likud MKs who want to be on the committees than can be assigned to them.

Germany’s federal intelligen­ce agency on Tuesday issued a report detailing security threats faced by the Federal Republic in 2020, ranging from Iran’s drive to obtain illicit technology for its nuclear weapons program to its increased attempts to secure material for missile developmen­t.

The report revealed a significan­t increase in membership and support for Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah, who are active in Germany.

The Jerusalem Post examined the 420-page German-language report by the national intelligen­ce agency. According to it, “the indication­s of proliferat­ion-relevant procuremen­t attempts by the Islamic Republic for its nuclear program increased in 2020.”

But it said that “however, a violation of the JCPOA in these cases could not be determined.”

The report, therefore, appears to contradict itself. On the one hand, it asserts that Iran sought illicit nuclear weapons technology and on the other, its attempts are not a violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Germany is one of the strongest advocates of the atomic deal and has also been Tehran’s most important European trade partner and would benefit economical­ly from the accord.

The Iranian regime, cited 100 times in the document, sought technology for its missile program. “The ambitious Iranian launcher technology/missile program is not covered by the Joint Comprehens­ive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the 2015 nuclear agreement that aims to restrict Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for economic sanctions relief... Iran’s procuremen­t in Germany have remained continuous­ly high... the trend is rising” compared to the previous year.

The report could affect negotiatio­ns in Vienna where world powers are seeking to bring Iran’s regime into compliance.

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