Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
(photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/POOL)
The Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday rejected an appeal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents in Likud to postpone the party’s leadership and Knesset primary set for Wednesday.
The decision by Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen means the race for both the Knesset list and Likud leader will be held that day, pending an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Agmon-Gonen wrote in her ruling that the decision to hold both races the same day was “reasonable” and would not cause significant harm to the democratic process inside the party.
A source close to Likud central committee members who filed the appeal said it is unlikely they will appeal the court’s decision to the Supreme Court. They said the legal steps they took until now to prove Netanyahu was running the party unfairly had already made their statement.
There are still appeals in Likud’s internal courts challenging a decision by the Likud central committee to permit the party’s leader to select his own candidates for two realistic slots on the party list in the March 17 general election.
The only challenger against Netanyahu for Likud leader will be MK Danny Danon, after MK Moshe Feiglin dropped out of the race.
Danon said he would not drop out of the leadership race despite pressure from Likud officials and activists and even his own advisers.
“I am the only candidate in Israel, maybe the world, running for chairman and for parliament in the same day,” he said. “It’s not easy. It’s a big challenge. But I’m willing to take that risk, because it’s important for the party to return to its core values.”
Danon said he believes Netanyahu will be able to run for Likud leader and the Knesset despite being disqualified last Wednesday by the party’s comptroller, Shai Galili.
Galili said Netanyahu must answer claims that he improperly used party resources in his leadership primary run.
Netanyahu and the Likud’s election committee said in response that Galili had no authority to disqualify the prime minister.
Netanyahu appealed the decision on Thursday. Sources close to him called Galili a political hack. Galili also tried Thursday to disqualify the Knesset candidacy of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Despite dropping out of the leadership race, Feiglin has continued raising large sums of money, which he has used for his race for Knesset. Unlike Netanyahu and Danon, who raised large sums from a small number of donors abroad, Feiglin has raised NIS 300,000 from small donations from dozens of Israelis.