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Who will be the next Likud leader?

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To some, this may be a great consolation, to some a great source of angst, but Benjamin Netanyahu will not be around forever. At the time being, there is no telling now King Bibi’s historic political career will end; perhaps at the hands of Avigdor Lieberman and his proposed bill to bar indicted individuals from the premiership, perhaps at the hands of the Jerusalem courts who are trying him for corruption, or perhaps at Netanyahu’s own hand in the form of retirement or political ascension to the presidency. Whatever it may be, the fact is that each day that passes is one day closer to the end of Netanyahu’s political career, and with Bibi’s notorious habit of sidelining would-be successors, one has to wonder who will be the first to try and fill Netanyahu’s shoes as Likud chairman.

It seems this question is on a lot of minds, as the religious-right publication Arutz Sheva recently published a survey of Likudniks asking the very question, limited specifically to current Likud Knesset members. Out of the 29 Knesset-elected Likudniks whose name does not rhyme with Nenjamin Betanyahu, only two received any significant support; Nir Barakat with 39%, and Yisrael Katz with 14%.

Barakat is a former tech magnate and Jerusalem mayor who, since his election to the Knesset in 2019, has built up a reputation as a Netanyahu loyalist. When he first ran for Jeruslamen’s mayor’s office unsuccessfully in 2003 and then successfully in 2008, Barakat did so as a political independent, endorsed by the Labor Party and individual Likudniks as a moderate secularist in relation to his Haredi opponents. Serving as mayor for a decade, Barakat’s legacy can be best regarded as a mixed bag, having public relations disasters with Formula 1 and Moshe Kachlon that cost the city’s residents, but also presiding over a tech-startup boom in the holy city. Undoubtedly, Barakat’s greatest moment as mayor was in 2015 when he single-handedly subdued a knife-wielding terrorist.

Katz entered the Knesset on the 1996 Likud slate, but broke out during the Sharon administration, helping lead the internal Likud opposition against The Bulldozer and his planned civilian withdrawals from post-1967 territories. Throughout his career, Katz has been an ardent supporter of the settlements, advocating for increased funding and incentives for them on several occasions. Katz,........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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