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Primary Candidates’ List Causes Row in Likud Party

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Likud officials charged the Israeli media this week with exaggerating a reported rift in the party between leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset member Dan Meridor.

Reports of the rift came in the wake of the publication this week of a list of recommended Likud candidates in the primaries, which did not include Meridor or Knesset member Ehud Olmert, the mayor of Jerusalem.

Meridor is known to be strongly opposed to the recently formed joint list of the Likud and Tsomet parties in the upcoming national elections.

Likud Knesset faction leader Moshe Katsav denied any connection between the list of recommend candidates and Netanyahu, saying that it was distributed by a “marginal element” in the party and had no significance.

“We are at the start of a very tough campaign for the primary system,” he said. “I believe that some marginal groups in the party used this negative method to try to receive popularity, or something else.”

Katsav said Meridor and Netanyahu had met and diffused the tensions between them.

Meanwhile, Meridor said that while he still believed that the Likud should re- examine its agreement with Tsomet to see whether it would really draw more votes, he would not oppose it. His spokesman, Shlomo Gravitz, said Meridor had no plans to try to overthrow Netanyahu for the party leadership in the Likud primaries, which are scheduled for March 18.

“All of us are working toward the real goal of the Likud, which is to win the coming elections,” he said.

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