Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to introduce a series of changes to bolster his control of the Likud party and its Knesset slate, Channel 2 reported Tuesday, including scheduling primaries earlier than originally planned — ahead of what sources in the party said was the growing likelihood of general elections taking place within the next year.
According to the report, the prime minister will announce the early primaries shortly, and will set as early a date as possible for the vote.
Netanyahu is expected to win the vote by a wide margin, the report said.
The premier will also reportedly seek to revise party policies to allow him to reserve every tenth seat for one of his own candidates, advance regional candidates at the expense of the national list, and move voting on regional candidates from the national caucus to the Likud central committee.
These maneuvers are expected to increase Netanyahu’s control over the party list, the TV report noted, adding that most of the other Knesset party leaders have already implemented similar changes within their parties.
Sources in Likud told Channel 2 that Netanyahu was acting under the assumption that new general elections would be held within a year.
The planned reform comes after Likud’s No. 2, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced in mid-September the he would resign from the government in late October and take a break from political life.
Sa’ar has been described as a favorite in the battle to eventually succeed Netanyahu. Speculation has surfaced that Sa’ar might join forces with fellow ex-Likud minister Moshe Kahlon and form a new party to challenge Netanyahu, but Sa’ar has dismissed this possibility.
Recent polls indicate Netanyahu is overwhelmingly considered by Israelis to be the politician most suitable to lead the country (38%).