Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 311 .
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Netanyahu stated that by holding
the race early,the Likud "won't have to get mired in internal struggles
and we will be free to handle the security, diplomatic, and economic
issues before us."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday confirmed that he would be advancing the Likud race to January 31.
at a Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu said: "I want to officially
declare that on January 31 we will hold the election for chairman of
The prime minister said that the move would "save millions for our
party." The Likud was already set to hold an election on January 31 for a
new central committee. Combining the races will save the Likud an
estimated NIS 4 million.
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Deflecting criticism of the move, Netanyahu said, "The Likud is a
transparent, democratic, party and everyone can submit their candidacy.
We are a unified and stable party that will continue to lead the country
responsibly. I spoke to every MK in the faction yesterday. I am glad I
heard a lot of support."
There have been fears inside the Likud since Defense Minister Ehud Barak
broke off from Labor that he would run with Likud with the help of
Netanyahu who would pass a proposal in the Likud Central Committee to
reserve places for Barak and others in his five man faction on the Likud
When MK Tzipi Hotovely and others challenged him on the matter at
Monday's faction meeting, the prime minister said: "I pledge that I
never promised a reserve spot for Barak and I was never asked to."
Netanyahu's disclosure of his plan to advance primaries on Sunday was
answered with an angry response from Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, a
potential candidate for the leadership of the Likud.
Netanyahu called Shalom to inform him of his decision. Shalom responded
that the prime minister's move was illegal and that he intended to fight
"There are rules in the Likud that say that the race must be held within
six months of the next general election, which is set for October
2013," a source closed to Shalom said. "There is no reason to hold the
race two years early. The race has to be held when it is clear which
candidate would have the best chance of winning a general election." The
last Likud leadership race in July 2007 was also moved up by Netanyahu
in a move that angered Shalom, who ended up deciding not to run.
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan on Monday praised
Netanyahu's decision to advance elections, rejecting claims that the
prime minister made the choice in order to avoid a crisis in the
In an interview with Israel Radio, he added that holding the party's
election earlier would allow the Likud more time to become united
leading up to general elections.
Erdan stated that the Likud Central Committee, and not Netanyahu has the
final say in whether to advance elections and those who wish to
challenge the decision should do so through democratic means and not by
way of legal action. He seemed to be referring to media reports that
Silvan Shalom may challenge Netanyahu's decision in court.
Israel Radio quoted Kadima sources as saying the move warranted
advancing the general election as well. They added that Kadima's
primaries should take place in February or March.
shot of the election has been fired," Shaul Mofaz told reporters at the
Knesset, "after the Likud set a January 2012 primary, Kadima has become
the only party in the Knesset that is not holding primaries. In the army
it is said that those who want peace must prepare for war, and I say
that those who want to topple the government and present an alternative
must understand that, to be ready, we must hold primaries."
Livni's attempt to avoid initiating a leadership race he predicted that
"even those grabbing onto power with their last legs will eventually