In two weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be defending his title as Likud Party Chairman against challenger Moshe Feiglin. Polls show Netanyahu winning, but that may not be enough for Israel’s Prime Minister. A poll conducted by Israeli polling company Ma’agar Mochot has Mr. Feiglin polling at about 26% support among Likud members not affiliated with Feiglin’s Jewish Leadership faction. With Feiglin’s Jewish Leadership faction numbering about 9% of the overall Likud membership, this brings his total support to about 35% in the party, Netanyahu at 51%, and 14% undecided or unsure.
The question asked in the poll leading to these statistics was worded as follows. The poll surveyed Likud members who voted in the last two Likud primaries: Do you agree or disagree with the point that it is important to vote for Moshe Feiglin in the upcoming primaries, even though it is clear that Benjamin Netanyahu will win, just so that the right wing inside Likud will gain strength?
26% either “agree” or “definitely agree” with that statement, while 14% are unsure or undecided.
According to the grassroots Likud website likudnik.co.il, Feiglin even has a chance of beating Netanyahu within the Likud Druze sector, which is known to be very right wing in its political leanings. Another grassroots site, likudshely.co.il, is reporting a widespread phenomenon of Netanyahu supporters refusing to turn out for him in protest, or even pledging to vote Feiglin in an act of defiance over Netanyahu’s refusal to legalize outposts in Judea and Samaria. Netanyahu’s refusal to support a bill requiring nominees to Israel’s Supreme Court to undergo confirmation hearings by the Knesset has also angered the party base, as have his attempts to secure former Labor Party leader Ehud Barak a slot on the upcoming Likud Knesset roster.
If Feiglin’s faction comes out on January 31st with a strong turnout in addition to these numbers, he has a fair chance of even reaching the 40% threshold and seriously embarrassing Netanyahu. Whether Netanyahu can maintain his hegemony in the party if Feiglin wins such a large percentage of the Likud electorate remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, the Feiglin camp is organizing a day of donations for his campaign on January 18th. See video below.