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Same Old, Nothing New

For Netanyahu, a bittersweet Likud list

Prime minister asks Benny Begin to serve as minister in next government despite Begin's poor showing in Likud primaries • Aides to the prime minister say he's pleased with the rightist nature of Likud list as it will stop voters joining Naftali Bennett's party.

Mati Tuchfeld and Edna Adato

Minister Without Portfolio Benny Begin was asked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to serve as minister in the next government as well.

Members of the Likud were studying the party's new list of Knesset and ministerial candidates on Tuesday and grappled with the fact that party veterans such as Dan Meridor and Benny Begin did not receive a spot on the list that would ensure their continuation as ministers in the next government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was said to be pleased with the Likud's new list, but wants to keep Benny Begin, who is currently Minister Without Portfolio, in the next government as well.

Netanyahu's close advisers said on Tuesday that the Likud's new list reflects the public's desire and may prevent people from voting for more right-wing parties such as the New National Religious Party, chaired by newly elected Naftali Bennett. The advisers said there is no concern over voters leaving the party for left-wing parties such as Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid ("There is a Future"), Labor, or Hatnuah ("The Movement"), which was announced by former Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni this week.

Netanyahu's advisers said the prime minster was disappointed with the poor showing by candidates he supported, such as Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Ofir Akunis and Shlomo Maoz.

Netanyahu spoke with Begin on Tuesday and asked him to serve as a minister in the next government despite his low position on the new party list, but political analysts believe Begin will not want to continue his political career in light of the results of the primaries.

Netanyahu also spoke with Meridor, who is currently intelligence and atomic energy minister and whom analysts believe will not leave the party despite his low position on the party ticket.

Party members said on Tuesday that the new list was varied more than they expected it to be and included more Sephardic and young candidates than they believed it would. "Every time the Likud holds primaries the headlines say the next day that the party has moved to the Right. It has become a ritual that no one is concerned about," a Likud minister said.

MK Carmel Shama Hacohen said "My position on the list, despite the blacklist that Haim Katz put me on, is a badge of honor for the judgment of party members and quite a few Israel Aircraft Industry employees who took a risk and voted for me."

MK Michael Eitan, another party veteran who did not make it to a position that will ensure him a seat in the next Knesset, said "Eight consecutive times I accepted the results of the primaries and was elected to represent the party. This time, party members decided otherwise and I accept their decision."

Meanwhile, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira called on the Knesset to look into legislation that would restrict the number of terms a member of Knesset can serve while also serving as head of a workers union. "The law states that an MK can serve as chairman of a workers union," Shapira said on a tour of towns bordering Gaza. "The interesting question concerns a limitation on the number of terms or years the MK can also serve as head of a union. This is something the legislators must decide."

Shapira recently warned Central Elections Committee chairman Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein that MK Haim Katz (Likud), who has also been serving as head of the Israel Aircraft Industry's workers union, may take advantage of his position at IAI to promote favored candidates in the Likud primaries.

So Bibi has answered us loud and clear the new Likud same as the old Likud is basically worthless.

What about hearing the will of the people?

The corruption is beyond belief and maybe always will be. We have become a hybrid of Soviet and Byzantine governmental styles.

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