Likud okays vote on early party primaries

Netanyahu reportedly aims to catch rivals off balance with early internal election; Labor said set to vote on merger with Livni next week

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset on December 3, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset on December 3, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Likud party’s constitutional committee on Monday agreed to vote on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to advance party primaries by a week.

Netanyahu’s proposal entails holding the Likud leadership elections on December 31 instead of January 6, a move believed to help catch his contenders for the right-wing party’s top slot off-guard.

His proposal also includes clauses to reserve the 11th and 24th slots on the party list for particular, unspecified party officials, and to reserve four high-ranking posts for female candidates.

The Likud central committee will vote on the proposal on Wednesday.

Netanyahu’s bid to advance party primaries is seen as an attempt to prevent former senior Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar from challenging his position as the ruling party’s top dog. Holding the primaries a week earlier would give Sa’ar, who announced his resignation as interior minister in September, only a month to muster support.

Sa’ar has yet to make a formal announcement of his return to political life, however.

Likud MK Danny Danon submitted his candidacy for the Likud leadership on Monday, becoming the first to challenge 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 is also likely to join the race for the Likud leadership.

Center-left merger to be voted next week

Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog reportedly intends to bring his party’s rumored union with Hatnua party leader Tzipi Livni to a vote next week.

“The deal is still not finished, but Herzog’s aspiration is to complete it within a few days,” senior Labor Party sources told Haaretz. “It’s not impossible that we’ll need a few additional days to solidify the understandings, but the hope is to present the document next week already.”

According to a poll published by the Knesset Channel on Monday, a joint Herzog-Livni list would receive 23 seats, compared to Likud’s 21. If the two ran separately, Hatnua would not pass the electoral threshold and Labor would only receive 17 seats.

Speaking at a Labor faction meeting on Monday, Herzog said: “The Labor party is returning to be the ruling party.”


On Saturday, Livni confirmed that her party was on the verge of sealing a deal to merge with Herzog’s Labor ahead of the March 2015 elections, asserting that such an alliance would offer Israeli voters a viable alternative to Netanyahu and Likud. Herzog declared over the weekend that he would become Israel’s next prime minister by leading a centrist bloc that would defeat Netanyahu.

However, the former justice minister was to meet with Yair Lapid on Monday to discuss a possible alliance with Yesh Atid.

Despite the reports of an imminent deal between Herzog and Livni, Yesh Atid sources told Israel Radio the pact was not finalized.

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