Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu can apparently afford to be picky: With Dan Meridor and Benny Begin safely back in the Likud, Netanyahu has reportedly rejected a bid by Knesset Member Effie Eitam (National Union-National Religious Party) to join the party's Knesset roster, ahead of the nearing general elections.
Eitam's newfound interest in the Likud was prompted by his decision not to join the new right-wing party, which emerged in early November as a union between the National Union, National Religious Party, Tkuma, and Moledet.
According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the failed negotiations may leave Eitam out of the Knesset race.
The Likud codex states that every party member can bid for a slot on the party's Knesset roster, providing he or she have been registered party members for at least 18 months.
As party chairman, Netanyahu can make exceptions to the rule, but he already has several prominent members the likes of Begin, Meridor, former Israel Police Chief Assaf Hefetz, former Chairman of the Israeli National Security Council Uzi Dayan and General (Ret.) Yossi Peled – to name a few – clamoring to be shortlisted.
Eitam was deems "too rightist for the Likud," as Netanyahu, said sources familiar with the talks, expressed concerns that having Eitam on the roster might portray the Likud as being too hawkish.
Several senior party members also warned that should Eitam join the party, and be endorsed by the "Feiglin camp" – as supports of party's right-wing hardliner Moshe Feiglin have been dubbed – it may prove "absolutely disastrous."
"If that happens the Likud will surely be perceived as a far-right party," said a party source. "Bibi has been racking his brain trying to find a way out of this Feiglin mess as it is."
Eitam himself told close associates that Netanyahu has no reason to deny his bid, saying that "If he endorses everyone else but me, it would be for a purely personal motive."
Should Eitam find himself out of the Likud roster, thus essentially without a party to run for, he would have his choice of three options: He could run for a Knesset seat on behalf of the independent, right-wing Achi faction; he could join the Likud and postpone his bid, or he could take a timeout from politics.