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Likud approves Netanyahu’s motion for early primaries

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Likud approves Netanyahu’s motion for early primaries

PM’s proposal was seen by many as attempt to thwart leadership bid by potential rival Gideon Sa’ar

The Likud Central Committee voted Wednesday in favor of a proposal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to set an earlier date for the party’s primaries, moving them from the beginning of January to December 31.

The motion 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 is seen by many as an attempt to thwart a leadership bid by popular former minister Gideon Sa’ar.

The primaries had originally been scheduled for January 6. The Likud decided it will now choose both its leader and its Knesset slate on December 31, in a vote seen as underlining Netanyahu’s strong support in the party.

The Likud did not release numbers, but said 2,300 out of 3,700 eligible party members had cast ballots on the measure, which was seen by some analysts as a litmus test for Netanyahu’s popularity within the party. Some reports said approximately 65% had voted for Netanyahu’s motion.

“Thanks to the Likud members for the overwhelming support,” Netanyahu said after the results were announced, according to Ynet. “This is an important stage in the upcoming elections which will be won by Likud.”

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