Netanyahu seeks to head off internal Likud challenge

Gideon Sa'ar and Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now wants a show of support in the Likud central committee. Potential challenger Gideon Sa'ar opposes the move.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene the 3,300-strong Likud central committee this week with the aim of winning a vote of confidence from the party in his leadership.

The move comes after the Likud's announcement on Thursday that the prime minister was considering a leadership election, as required by the Likud party's constitution in the event that the Knesset is dissolved and another general election is called (which would be the third within a year).

Likud sources said last week that party primaries to elect a leader or an expression of support by the party's central committee were necessary in order to make it clear to the Blue and White party and other parties that Netanyahu was the party chairman and that there was no prospect of negotiations with a successor to him to form a unity government.

On Thursday, prominent Likud member of Knesset Gideon Sa'ar tweeted 'I'm ready" in relation to the possibility a party primaries being held. It now seems, however, that Netanyahu has changed his mind and decided not to allow a primary election among the party's 120,000 registered members, and instead to bolster his position through a vote in the central committee.

According to the Likud announcement the vote will not be a party-wide election with other candidates standing, but only a show of hands for Netanyahu.

The Likud statement says. "Prime Minister Netanyahu has accepted the proposal by Likud central committee chairman MK Haim Katz to convene the committee on Thursday, September 10, 2019, at the Tel Aviv Convention Center at 19:00 in order to confirm that Prime Minister Netanyahu is the Likud movement's candidate for prime minister for the entire duration of the 22nd Knesset.

"The resolution also states that the Likud party will only join a government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, whether for the whole period or for part of it under a rotation arrangement."

Sa'ar opposes convening the central committee, and has said that he will compete against Netanyahu when primary elections are declared. In a statement released yesterday he said, "There is no need to convene the central committee. No-one disputes the role of the prime minister as head of the Likud. When there is a leadership election, such as the prime minister himself initiated a few days ago, I shall compete."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 6, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

Gideon Sa'ar and Benjamin Netanyahu
Gideon Sa'ar and Benjamin Netanyahu
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