Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pulled a maneuver in an attempt to keep himself in power for years and assure his ability to attack Iran. The Likud Central Committee approved the merging of the Likud with Yisrael Beiteinu, the party of Avigdor Lieberman. Polls show that the merger will bring between 35 to 42 mandates in the next elections.
"I have heard much talk about successors, but I intend to lead the state for many years to come," Netanyahu told the meeting of the central committee. Sounding like Benito Mussolini he raged on, "We vote today for a merger that won't alter the Likud, but will change the state of Israel. Joining forces will give us the strength to rule, to act, to change, and to govern Israel with might."
The merger deal involves secret clauses that where not revealed to the Central Committee, in fact the document voted on included just one sentence stating that the two parties "agree to run together." All the details on what power Lieberman will have, how candidates will be chosen, etc., were not included, all of which would be up to Netanyahu and Lieberman to decide. It should be remembered that Lieberman is not only a former member of the Likud, but was at one time Netanyahu's bureau chief. He created his party to win the Israeli Russian vote, so as to be able to form a coalition with Likud, because Likud was not popular among the Russian community.
Not everyone in Likud backed this merger. Michael Eitan, a leading member of the Likud, led a faction opposing it. He fears that Lieberman would in the end take over the policy.
If the combined parties were to get 35-42 mandates they will without doubt be the largest party in the Knesset, which has a total of 120 seats, and Netanyahu would be asked to form a government. This would give Netanyahu tremendous leverage to get full coalition backing for a strike against Iran. Elections are scheduled for January 22.