Key Likud supporters oppose party, Netanyahu ahead of elections

Two semi-prominent Likud Party supporters said Monday they oppose the party and its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with about a week to go before snap elections choose Israel’s leader and all 120 members of Parliament.

Democratic Union Party leader Stav Shaffir (C) leads a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday outside the Knesset in Jerusalem. Photo by Debbie Hill

Prominent Australian-Jewish political donor Joseph Gutnick said he’s switched parties — and Benny Begin, son of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, said the party and Netanyahu have exhibited arrogant behavior.

Gutnick has been a Likud supporter since the 1996, when he first worked with Netanyahu’s campaign. Monday, he defected to the Yamina party, an alliance of small right-wing parties led by former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

“Yamina is a right-wing party, and if you want to ensure that there will be a right-wing government, Yamina needs 13 or 14 seats,” Gutnick old the Jerusalem Post. “If Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc doesn’t win 61 seats, Netanyahu would form a unity government. He won’t get 61 if Yamina doesn’t get enough votes.”


Gutnick said Netanyahu intends to form a unity government with a center-left Blue and White party, and destroy his “right-wing legacy.” He supports Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to replace Netanyahu in the Sept. 17 vote.

The election was ordered in May after Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government after the last vote in April.

Begin said he can no longer support the Likud Party or Netanyahu.


“It’s impossible,” he said. “You can’t continue to behave [arrogantly] and still expect a reward. There is price for such arrogant, conceited, rude and flagrant behavior.”

Begin was ousted from the Internal Affairs Committee for opposing a law that bans police from specifying at the end of investigations whether there’s enough evidence to prosecute. He accused lawmakers of passing the bill to benefit Netanyahu, who has been under investigation for several complaints.

“It seems to me that the Likud leadership has put considerable effort into making it difficult for me to support Likud, and in recent months has even deterred me from voting for the party in the elections,” Begin added.

ByNicholas Sakelaris