JERUSALEM, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- Members of Israel's right-wing Likud party authorized on Monday the merger with the nationalist Israel Beiteinu party led by the country's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
The members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, voted in favor of the merger, which was announced on Thursday, with a landslide majority.
During a short speech at the convention, Netanyahu stressed that the Likud party would remain a separate, liberal and nationalist party, but the merger would allow it to rest on solid ground.
"I believe that at this crucial time we need to keep a united national camp. The Likud party would remain liberal and would be the home for all citizens of Israel. But this merger would allow us to carry on and lead Israel for years to come," Netanyahu added.
Netanyahu has been suffering some heat from different Likud members after announcing on Thursday the merger with the Israel Beiteinu party without further discussions with party members.
Likud ministers criticized Netanyahu for not sharing them with the process. While one minister told the Ynet news website that a party's gathering on Sunday was "tense," Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar slammed Israel Beiteinu for not holding democratic primary elections to determine their list for the general elections.
However, according to Sunday polls, the merged party does not succeed in increasing the political strength of the two parties. While a channel 2 news poll gave the list 42 seats in the next Knesset (parliament), out of a total of 120 seats, which is the amount of seats both parties have together in the current Knesset. The channel 10 news poll gave the united list 35 seats, while the Ma'ariv newspaper gave the list 43 mandates.
Netanyahu and Lieberman announced on Thursday that they will be running in a joint list for the January 22 elections. The two leaders have denied speculation that Lieberman will rotate with Netanyahu in the premiership role, in case the two win the elections.
JERUSALEM, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- In the Israeli elections scheduled on Jan. 22, 2013, the right-left fault line may not be drawn as in the past along issues such as relations with the Palestinians, but over Iran's controversial nuclear program and Israel's economy, analysts said.
In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Channel 2 political news correspondent Amit Segal said the longstanding deadlock in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians has made potential peace talks moot, so the Israel-Palestinian issue is currently unlikely to be one of the major election issues. Full story