The Likud party’s internal court ruled Wednesday in favor of moving up the party primaries from January 6 to December 31, overturning its decision from two days earlier that said that only a two-thirds majority of the party’s Central Committee members could approve such a measure.
Last week, the Central Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of a proposal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to set an earlier date for the party’s primaries. However, Netanyahu fell only dozens of votes short of a two-thirds majority, and the party’s court on Monday struck the motion down.
Netanyahu then appealed the court ruling, and an extended panel of judges on Wednesday decided to finally accept the prime minister’s request and uphold the Central Committee’s original vote to set the primaries for December 31.
The court said, however, that it was still reviewing whether Likud rules permitted another request by Netanyahu to reserve the 11th and 23rd slots on the party list for candidates of his choosing.
Netanyahu’s motion to move up the primaries was ostensibly intended to clear the way for the chosen Likud head to begin preparations for the March 17 elections as soon as possible, but was seen by many as an attempt to thwart a rumored leadership bid by popular former minister Gideon Sa’ar. Sa’ar announced last Thursday that he would not run for the party leadership.
Adiv Sterman contribute to this report.