Likud MK Danny Danon submitted his candidacy for the Likud leadership on Monday, becoming the first to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership in the party primaries.
“In the past few years, the Likud movement has gone astray,” Danon said. “It’s time to both talk right and do right — in terms of security and politically, as well as socially and economically.”
Danon had collected the required 500 signatures backing his candidacy.
The Likud central committee chairman — who was fired from his position as deputy defense minister by Netanyahu over the summer after voicing criticism of the war in Gaza — had announced he would run on November 10. He has been a fierce critic of Netanyahu’s policies.
MK Moshe Feiglin and former interior minister Gideon Sa’ar are also rumored to have joined the race for the Likud leadership, with primaries scheduled for January 6.
According to a poll cited by Haaretz on Sunday, having Danon or Feiglin at the helm would not dramatically reduce the number of seats Likud would receive, with an estimated 18 under Feiglin and 17 under Danon. Recent polls show that under Netanyahu, Likud would likely receive over 20 seats.
Likud party sources on Thursday told Channel 10 news that Sa’ar was weighing a comeback to try to oust Netanyahu.
Confident that Sa’ar can defeat Netanyahu as Likud leader in a vote set for January 6, pro-Sa’ar Likud activists are urging the former minister to officially register his candidacy before the December 14 deadline, according to the report.
There was no word from Sa’ar, who had been regarded as a favorite in the battle to eventually succeed Netanyahu before he chose to leave politics. He officially left his post in mid-October.
Netanyahu has headed the party largely unthreatened since 2005, when Ariel Sharon left to form the Kadima party.