Is Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat planning a takeover of the Likud? According to newly released recordings of a closed-door meeting, Barkat may have ambitions to become much more than just a Knesset member.
The two-term mayor ran in Jerusalem municipal elections three times – 2003, 2008, and 2013 – as an independent, though he maintained close ties with the Kadima party and served as chief of its Jerusalem branch.
In December 2015, however, Barkat joined the Likud, with widespread speculation that he was plotting a political future as an MK following his second term.
On Monday night, however, recordings of a closed-door meeting with supporters revealed that Barkat may be aiming for much more than a seat in the Knesset.
During the meeting Barkat discussed, among other things, his efforts to bring his supporters into the Likud.
He noted the growing anxiety within the party establishment over his recruitment campaign, saying senior Likud officials “know that…every week or two our people put together a group [of recruits] without telling anyone how many we recruited. But they’re starting to understand that this is starting to be impressive.”
Barkat claimed that with his growing base of support within the party, Likud officials, including senior ministers, are now looking to win his friendship, a veiled reference to his growing influence within the Likud and a hint at how far he believes that may take him.
“Over the past month and a half it’s just been amazing, there’s never been anything like it. The [Likud] ministers meet with me – Minister Yisrael Katz, Haim Katz, and (Gilad) Erdan – and they’re all acting so nicely. They sit with me like I’ve been their friend for the last 40 years. They hear in the background that something’s happening.”