Israel PM's Likud unhappy over rightwing alliance

AFP , Sunday 28 Oct 2012

Netanyahu faces fierce opposition within his Likud party after forging electoral alliance with Lieberman's ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu ahead of general elections in January

Netanyahu & Lieberman
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman shake hands in front the media after giving a statement in Jerusalem, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 (Photo: AP)

An alliance between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party and Avigdor Lieberman's ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu has angered many within the premier's party, commentators said on Sunday.

In a surprise announcement last week, Netanyahu and his foreign minister said their two parties would run on a joint list in a general election on January 22, in a move likely to see them lead the next coalition government.

Netanyahu's rightwing party, which holds 27 of the 120 seats in the Knesset or parliament, will be attending the Likud Convention in Tel Aviv on Monday night at which they will be asked to ratify the merger with Yisrael Beitenu, which holds 15 seats

But the move has sparked widespread dissent within Likud, Sunday's newspapers reported.

"A large number of Likud ministers, MPs and field activists said they were afraid that the merger would hurt the party," said the top-selling Yediot Aharonot, noting the move sparked "fierce opposition" within the party"Half the Likud ministers either opposed to the merger with Yisrael Beitenu or have doubts about the agreement."

Figures from a survey released at the weekend by Israel's Channel 10 television showed 26 percent of Likud voters were against the move, although 58 percent said they were in favour.

And 22 percent of Likud voters said they did not intend to vote for the united list in JanuaryIt also showed similar sentiments among Yisrael Beitenu voters, with 35 percent saying they were against the deal, while 51 percent supported it"

The house is burning," a senior Likud figure told Haaretz. "There's a smell of explosives in the air.

Many loyal voters told us: 'We have no intention of voting for this thing'."

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