Edelstein could challenge Netanyahu for Likud leadership

Shalom Yerushalmi is the political analyst for Zman Israel, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew current affairs website

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein plans to challenge Benjamin Netanyahu for the leadership of the Likud party if Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid form a government, reports Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language sister site.

Should a government of the so-called “change bloc” force Likud into the opposition, Netanyahu is expected to seek snap party primaries to cement his hold over the right-wing party. Edelstein, the party’s No. 2, will likely seek to delay the primaries for a few months and then challenge Netanyahu for the top spot.

Edelstein, however, will only make a final decision on whether to proceed with the move if a Lapid-Bennett government is established.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein seen during a visit at a Leumit COVID-19 vaccination center in Tel Aviv, with the 5 millionth Israeli who received a vaccination. March 8, 2021. (Miriam Alster/ Flash90)

An unnamed Likud official, speaking to Zman Yisrael, said that Netanyahu’s removal would hasten the collapse of such a government, whose ideologically diverse members are united largely in their opposition to Netanyahu.

“Netanyahu is the glue of the government that will be formed, and only if he resigns can we easily dismantle it,” the official says.

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