Fifth to Abandon Yisrael Beytenu? Yair Shamir Not in Running

January 15, 2015  

Amid a massive corruption scandal that has focused on senior party members, Yisrael Beytenu has been nosediving in the polls, and four key MKs have already left in rapid succession – indications on Thursday are that Agricultural Minister Yair Shamir may be next.

Shamir did not submit his candidacy for the party’s Knesset list, reports Walla!, noting that the list which was published on Thursday on the party’s website did not include him.

All of the other party members – aside from the four who stepped down in the last two months – were on the list, which will be used by the party’s committee next Monday when it determines the final list for March 17 elections.

Those who have abandoned ship include Minister of Public Security Yitzchak Aharonovich, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, MK David Rotem, and Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum, a central suspect embroiled in the massive corruption scandal surrounding the party.

Liberman on Thursday morning held an event unveiling his party’s campaign.

When asked if any more MKs would be quitting, he answered “if you mean Yair Shamir, Yair is out of the country. It seems to me he’ll return tomorrow. On Sunday I’ll talk with him and we’ll reach a decision together.”

Danny Ayalon, formerly a deputy minister with Yisrael Beytenu, claimed on Monday that party leader Avigdor Liberman employs a method of forcing members to step down for his own reasons.

“Twenty-four hours before they announce the Knesset list, in some kind of committee that is fictitious, then he (Liberman) contacts you by phone and says ‘you have no place on the list,’ and then he offers you a letter of resignation,” said Ayalon, adding that from his personal experience Liberman also offers incentives in urging members to quit.

Speaking on Thursday, Liberman added “our goal is to reach 16 mandates. Even if it doesn’t seem like it now, I expect that in another month it will look exactly like that.”

A recent poll placed Yisrael Beytenu at a mere seven seats, with others showing it down to six as the party drops rapidly amid the ongoing corruption scandal.

Yisrael Beytenu’s new campaign slogan was also released on Thursday, reading “Ariel to Israel, Umm al-Fahm to Palestine,” indicating the party’s plan of creating a Palestinian state in the heart of Israel.

Liberman’s plan, criticized by many as being a blatant shift to the left, urges dividing Israel and conceding large swathes of currently sovereign territory including the “Triangle” region of the Galilee so as to “unify” the people.

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