PM is engaged in battle for supremacy inside his own party.
This week, while uprisings were gaining steam in Turkey and Syria, elections were about to take place in Iran, and a diplomatic plan was being hatched in Washington, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was focused on defending Israel from an enemy.
Was it Syrian President Bashar Assad? Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei? Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan? No, no and no.
The answer is Emanuel Weiser.
Who is Weiser, you might ask? He is a religious-Zionist Tel Aviv lawyer who has twice run unsuccessfully for a slot on the Likud’s Knesset list. The scion of a Belgian Betar commander, he heads an organization that represents the ideas of the Likud’s ideological father Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
Weiser is running for the chairmanship of the Likud’s internal court, a post the importance of which cannot be underestimated, especially in Netanyahu’s eyes.
Normally, the court makes decisions about procedural and technical matters and helps ensure that the Likud is being run properly, according to its bylaws.
That is what has happened when the court has been run by a retired judge.
Netanyahu fears that if the court is run by a right-wing political activist like Weiser, hawks on the Likud central committee could take him to court whenever he takes actions that violates the committee’s decisions, such as the decision opposing a Palestinian state or a potential decision to reject the merger with Yisrael Beytenu that he covets.
The worst-case scenario for Netanyahu is that the central committee could take action to initiate a leadership race in which he could be overthrown. If he had his man at the helm of the court, those moves could be stopped.
Netanyahu thought he had the right man for the job: A retired judge with a Likud background named Nissim Yeshaya. But then Yeshaya got in trouble for saying that “some women enjoy rape,” and then another judge said no new candidates for chairman of the court could join the race — which could mean an easy victory for Weiser.
“I don’t intend to use the court to persuade people to accept my views,” Weiser said when informed of Netanyahu’s concern. “I just want to help the Likud, which is in a bad state. The court doesn’t normally deal with ideological disputes. But if he is afraid of running the party according to its constitution, then yes, he has what to worry about if I win.”
Hundreds of Likud activists gathered at the Gallery Palace Hall on the Tel Aviv-Holon border Tuesday night to accuse Netanyahu of doing just that: Bypassing the Likud’s rules for his own political gain. They expressed frustration with Netanyahu for delaying for more than a year the internal party elections and a Likud convention that would follow up on the last one, in which he was booed.
A compromise was reached by the Likud’s election committee Wednesday between Netanyahu’s associates and political rivals, to hold the elections on the last day the Tel Aviv District Court …read more