Other Likud MKs who retained their spots included: Ofir Akunis, who won the Tel Aviv district spot at number 26 in 2008 and was 19th after this round, has traditional Likud ideology, but he is also considered “Bibi’s man”; Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who is considered a liberal nationalist, but by no means an extremist remained in the top ten (fourth in 2008, now seventh); and Gila Gamliel, another Likud MK who was not considered right-wing remained at about the same place on the list, dropping from 19 to 20th.
Ayoub Kara, a Druze member of Knesset, who is considered very right-wing, won spot number 25, but that was the “non-Jewish” spot and it was practically reserved for him either by Netanyahu or with his consent. Kara is considered very close to Netanyahu and despite attending an emergency meeting for Ulpana just before the vote on “Hok Hasdara” (the “arrangement” or “regulation” law, a bill intended to save communities like Ulpana), Kara did not vote for the law.
The other new introduction to the first 22 spots on the list is Tzach HaNegbi, the former longtime Likud member who had been the Likud’s Central Committee Chairman and served as acting chairman of the party following Sharon’s departure for a short period until he too deserted. When he took up the post of acting chair he said “there are roots that can’t be uprooted” and when he left a couple of weeks later, said, “Sometimes ideological matters are diminished; it’s a personal move.” HaNegbi is the son of Lehi member Geula Cohen who in the Knesset was to the right of Menachem Begin, but he clearly lacks her ideological spine. A relic of the “political pragmatism” of Ariel Sharon, he more than balances out the introduction of Moshe Feiglin to the list.
Overall the Likud’s Knesset faction won’t be much different. Of the 22 of the first 25 spots on which sitting MKs could run, 20 are from the current faction and two are long-time and prominent Likud members. The major difference between this faction and the last is that Begin, Eitan and Meridor will be out. But can it be claimed the Likud won’t be the Likud without them? That will be the subject of the next post in the Likud’s Knesset list tomorrow.