Friday, January 11, 2013

Likud Infuriated by Settlers Overtaking Party But Voting for Competition

The trend of right wing voters joining the Likud Party to influence the primaries and select a more hardcore right wing nationalist list, but then move on to vote for the Bayit Yehudi in the general Knesset election, has prompted Likud to “play rough” and convey the message that if these Israelis fail to vote for Likud-Beitenu in January 22′s election, the consequences for the entire settler movement could be grave, Maariv reported on Friday.

“In the previous elections [in 2009], trends pointed at the infuriating phenomenon of residents of Judea and Samaria enlisting as party members but then not voting for [Likud] in the elections,” sources in the party were quoted as saying. “The accusation was that they were taking over the party, even though they aren’t really supporters.”

But now, the sources said, “there’s pressure on the settlers. The message is that, this time round, you have to be with us. Otherwise, there will be repercussions for the future of the settlement movement.”

The report cited a recent event with Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein, a resident of the settlement of Neve Daniel, in the home of a supporter in the settlement of Psagot. Edelstein was quoted as saying, Netanyahu and his ministers would lose respect for the settlers. 

“In the last four years, they invested a lot of money in settlements, but in the coming four years, the extent of the support and the sums involved will drop,” one participant reportedly said. “There are people in the Likud who say that, instead of appointing as ministers [in the next government] the party’s rightist Knesset members, we should appoint outsiders [left off the list] who are true Likudniks — people like Benny Begin and Dan Meridor.”

Another Likud member was quoted as saying that, after the elections, the party would compare the number of votes it received in various settlements to the number of Likud members in the same locations.

“If you turn the settlement movement into a sectarian cause, you lose the most important source of support — the public,” Likud’s MK Yariv Levin said. “When all is said and done, the Likud government did a lot for the settlement movement: road infrastructure, a new university, more construction in many places… A weak show of support for the Likud turns the settlements into a personal cause of the settlers and takes them out of the consensus position of [being associated with] the ruling party.”

MK Ofir Akunis, who holds the number 2 position in the campaign information office, has actually said for the record: “I expect all the Likud registered members, in Judea and Samaraia and in the rest of the country, to vote “Machal” (the likud ticket at the polls). Registration is not done only to influence the list during the primaries. Anyone who registered in Likud must be honest with themselves and vote Likud at the general elections.”