Although I expressed some support for Netanyahu and generally agreed with Dr Spyer, who by the way, stands to the right of Barry Rubin, I am glad that Likud is holding Bibi in check and that it is building its right wing strength. Ted Belman
Former US president Bill Clinton, who recently complained that right-leaning Russian Israeli voters lean too far to the right, may be dismayed to learn that the Likud party is also shifting rightward.
The ruling Likud party has been carrying out a country-wide membership drive over the past year, and sources close to the drive said that the proportion of ideologically-motivated nationalists among the members has risen significantly. Party members are the ones who elect the party chairman and select its Knesset list in party primaries. They also vote for Central Committee members.
In the 2009 primaries, Likud had about 85,000 registered members, of whom 10,000 were identified as “ideological” – that is, proponents of the Land of Israel for whom the issue of safeguarding the Land is the overriding concern. Following a year-long membership drive, however, the number of members has risen to about 135,000, of whom 22,000 are considered “ideological.” This means the proportion of hardline nationalists has risen from 12% to 16%.
“The result of the membership drive is a clear message to the ministers, Knesset members and Prime Minister,” a knowledgeable Likud source said. “Today there is a critical mass within Likud that strengthens those faction members who will be faithful to the Land of Israel and its settlers.” The change, he said, will make it very difficult for the Prime Minister to make concessions regarding the settlement of the Land of Israel.
Several groups of activists have been very busy this year adding more “ideological” members to Likud. One such group works from Samaria and includes prominent activists from Homesh First and other groups. Another group includes Likud’s hardline MKs like Danny Danon, Tzipi Hotovely, Yariv Levin and Minister Yuli Edelstein. Moshe Feiglin’s Jewish Leadership faction, “The Likud Yesha Sector” headed by Shevach Stern, and a group headed by former minister Effie Eitam have all been adding “ideological” members to Likud.