How the settlers embarrassed Netanyahu, again (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Yossi Verter 05/07/12)
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Anyone who happened by the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on Sunday for
the "festive" opening session of the Likud party convention might
have rubbed his eyes and wondered: Is this the National Union? Is
this the Tehiya party come back to life? Or is it the Mercaz Harav
Hundreds of settler-types, men and women in skullcaps and kerchiefs
of all sizes and colors, crowded into the hall and settled on the
plastic chairs, leaving veteran party members no room to sit. Some of
the latter crowded into the aisles, while others were left out in the
cold, justifiably frustrated.
But the most frustrated veteran of all was Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu; he had planned to be unanimously elected president of the
convention so that, down the road, he could dictate the way the
candidates for the next Knesset would be chosen. He thought that the
approaching elections would force the party delegates to
automatically back him. He thought that his political prowess on the
national scene would reverberate on the local field as well.
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Nu, so he thought. He discovered that it´s easier to defeat Shaul
Mofaz and Shelly Yacimovich in the national arena than to overcome MK
Danny Danon, his main rival for the convention chairmanship, who
refused to back down.
Few of the settlers, who had been democratically elected to the
convention, are likely to vote for the Likud. They care not a wit for
Netanyahu or his ambitions. They came early and grabbed most of the
seats to signal to him that he cannot do as he pleases in his party.
The festive event quickly turned into a sweaty performance of
heckling, yelling and catcalls.
"Secret ballot," these people yelled - referring to the way the
convention chairman would be chosen. They were essentially spitting
in Netanyahu´s face; the meeting turned into a bitter disappointment
and the vote was postponed.
Thus did the Likud, the ruling party, the party leading in the polls,
open its election campaign.
A senior party official quoted former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir
who, after going through a similar experience, said "this movement is
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The settlers´ achievement was Netanyahu´s failure. He walked straight
into the minefield with his eyes closed, with no clue what was
waiting for him.
Who the heck does that guy consult with? Who are the advisers who
were meant to prevent this humiliation? How is it that they had no
knowledge of what was being planned? And why in the world did they
rent a hall that only seats 400, when the convention drew 3,700
The damage can and will be repaired, of course. Netanyahu always
finds the way to get what he wants. For the primary he´ll put voting
stations all over the country, and keep them open from morning till
night if need be.
Of the 130,000 registered Likud members, only about 9,000 are
settlers. In truth, they are a minority. But Sunday night they were
the majority. And except for when Netanyahu spoke about Iran, they
treated him with scorn. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/07/12)
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