Netanyahu presents his ‘dream team’

By Yaakov Katz, November 26, 2008
Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu

Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu

Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, who spent the past week compiling his "dream team" for the Knesset, has succeeded in enlisting a contingent of celebrities.

They include Tal Brody, the basketball hero who led Maccabi Tel Aviv to its historic 1977 Euroleague victory, former general Moshe Ya'alon, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, grandson of the legendary Betar leader who he is named for, as well as former politicians Dan Meridor and Benny Begin, son of former prime minister Menahem Begin.

Mr Netanyahu's recruitment drive has not been embraced by all in the Likud. Serving MKs will have greater competition in the December 8 primaries to clinch a high spot in the 34 mandates Likud is expected to win in the elections, according to the latest polls.

Kadima has also been recruiting new stars and last week added a former Jerusalem police chief, a top businesswoman as well as a Russian journalist to its list running in the primaries.

The Labour Party, trailing in the polls with just eight mandates, is also trying to improve its image and this week Defence Minister Ehud Barak and his arch rival - former party chairman Amir Peretz - embraced each other at a rally, aiming to show party unity.

Mr Barak used the rally to slam Mr Netanyahu, blaming his policies as finance minister for the recent drop in value in the public's pension fund.

"The Labour Party is the only party that will look out for your finances," Mr Barak said, later taking credit for the Treasury's decision to set up a safety net to protect the savings of those nearing retirement.

The Labour Party will go to primaries next Tuesday and expectations are that there will be a tough race for candidates for the top 10 slots.

Some MKs had hoped to avoid the primaries, which they claimed would waste money, cause internal fighting and lose precious weeks which the party could be using to campaign ahead of the February 10 general elections.

"We did this a mere two years ago," said one Labour MK who asked not to be named. "It wastes loads of money and time but it is part of the democratic process and is needed in order to form a list."

Last updated: 3:14pm, November 26 2008