‘You can’t talk about two states and also sovereignty,’ says Danon; challenge on Netanyahu’s leadership to return party to roots.
By Shimon Cohen, Ari Yashar, INN
After Likud MK Moshe Feiglin left the race for leadership of the party, only Likud Central Committee chairperson MK Danny Danon is left facing off against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for control of Likud.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Danon said that despite the frequent controversy between himself and Netanyahu the current race is not a personal matter, but rather a conflict over which path and values Likud should pursue.
With Labor joining with Hatnua and running neck and neck with Likud according to polls, Danon was asked whether Feiglin may not have been right to withdraw from the race, citing the need for unity in the party to deal with challenges from without.
“The Likud party is a democratic party and there is a struggle on ideology and path, and I stick to the principles. We must return the Likud to its true path. If we don’t do so, we will have a problem winning in elections and forming a coalition government,” said Danon.
Explaining the ideological struggle within the party, he added “you can’t talk about two states and also about applying sovereignty (in Judea and Samaria), talk about social issues when in effect the economy and the society are in withdrawal.”
“We must return to the true Likud. I will accept the selection of the members, but we must return the Likud to the place it needs to be in,” said Danon.
Referencing highly controversial moves taken by the last coalition government, Danon said “the big question is where Likud is heading to, to a Likud that releases terrorists with blood on their hands? Are we headed for a Likud that freezes building in Judea and Samaria?”
“We have to return to the true Likud that sees settlers as pioneers and encourages building, and does Zionist acts and not those that try to satisfy Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid in processes that weaken the state of Israel,” said Danon.
Political savvy or selling out values?
Danon rejected claims that Netanyahu acted in a politically savvy manner by letting Hatnua head Livni manage peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and thereby prove agreements can’t be reached, and let Yesh Atid head Lapid who ran on a financial agenda run the Ministry of Finance and generally fail in doing so.
“It was a mistake to form a government with Livni as the first minister to enter the coalition, it was a mistake to turn her into the one responsible for peace talks and release terrorists and freeze construction, and therefore we need to return to our true roots,” said Danon. “We were elected to lead the state so as to conduct Likud policy, and not so as to be contractors for the left in Israel.”
Responding to polls that indicate Likud under Danon would receive 17 seats as opposed to the roughly 22 recent polls have given it under Netanyahu, he noted “that’s before the campaign has started. Many believe in the justice that I present. If we return to our roots we’ll get a lot more mandates that will allow us to lead the state, and we won’t be neutralized every time by attempts to survive and vacillate.”
Some have claimed Netanyahu will return to right-wing policy after having gotten rid of Lapid and Livni, as seen in recent budget allocations to Judea and Samaria that Lapid had previously blocked, but Danon said “it’s not enough to talk right-wing, you have to act right-wing.”
“You have to look at the activities of the government in the last two years, the negotiations that were held in the last two years by Netanyahu, and to make sure that Likud will be a right-central party and not a center party. We have to act this way without hesitation,” said Danon.
Danon said his running against Netanyahu isn’t personal, even though Netanyahu fired him from his post as Deputy Defense Minister over Danon’s criticism during Operation Protective Edge. Danon at the time slammed Netanyahu for agreeing to numerous ceasefires with the Hamas terrorist group, even before the terror tunnels were lethally unveiled and dealt with, thereby potentially leaving them as a threat.
“This is not a personal struggle but a struggle on the path. In Protective Edge I opposed the hesitation and also the end of the operation. It’s legitimate that there be different opinions in the same party,” he said.