ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Likud Primaries Tomorrow

Likud Primaries Tomorrow

27 November 2002

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Former prime minister and present Foreign Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is trailing badly in the surveys being conducted among Likud party members who are to choose their prime ministerial candidate in tomorrow’s primaries.  The gap between himself and front runner PM Ariel Sharon ranges in the 20 – 25% zone.  Netanyahu’s headquarters claim he is closing the gap and trying to avoid despair.  Sharon may be satisfied with the surveys but he is urging his supporters not to be complacent and to make sure they vote. 

Netanyahu has changed his tune from outright confrontation for the PM spot to demanding that he take his ‘rightful’ place in the Likud leadership after the runoff.   Supposedly many of his high profile supporters are abandoning him, fearing a Sharon camp retaliation after the elections.  No doubt loyalty in politics was always fickle at best.

Netanyahu attacked Sharon on two fronts, the economy and the PM’s acceptance of a Palestinian state in principle.  The foreign minister decided to make the Palestinian state topic the major issue believing he could whip up ideological support and  emotional opposition to the idea in principle. 

Sharon speaks of a complete cessation of terror, reforms in the PA and a serious territorial compromise as his conditions for such an entity.  The Revisionist ideologues who formed the Likud always negated an Arab state entity west of the Jordan River.  Sharon is the first Likud PM to break with the Revisionist platform and Netanyahu figured he could unseat a popular reigning prime minister by inferring a betrayal of ideology.

But people have been listening to everything Sharon has been saying and not just following slogans.  They also know if Sharon is the candidate the Likud will receive a lot more votes and that means more Knesset seats and more spoils for the party faithful.

But as the famous Green Bay Packers football coach (1960’s) Vince Lombardi once said, “It ain’t over until it’s over.”