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A senior Likud official said that the agreement aimed to "hurt Likud's religious and Sephardic voters… our traditional voters are now likely to vote for either Shas or Habayit Hayehudi , while our secular voters will now vote for Yair Lapid."
Likud activists were furious at the announcement: "This is not a 'white meat' party; we will not vote for a Russian party," an activist wrote to a Likud official via SMS.
Netanyahu and Lieberman (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"The merge utterly changes the party's DNA," said another senior Likud official. "Likud is affiliated with tradition and religion. We bring together the Sephardics and the Ashkenazim," he said, "with Lieberman's party on board – we're heading at a totally different direction."
Minister Michael Eitan was the only official who openly expressed his objection to the merger. He described it as being a "Likud clearance sale."
Eitan also said the agreement is a "threat to Israeli democracy."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Eitan over the phone on Thursday and reportedly told him that, "This has to be done in order to empower the government." Eitan told the PM in response that "In order to join forces we need common agenda, while Lieberman thinks of us as feinschmeckers."
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